Flash Memory FAQ

Flash memory is a type of electronic, non-volatile memory storage used to transfer and store data. The convenience of use and extended list of benefits has resulted in the demand for flash storage significantly growing since it was first introduced to the market in the 1950’s. We have seen it being used in many applications and products such as USB flash drives, SD Cards, compact flash cards and solid-state hard drives, today it is an essential storage component in consumer electronics and the automotive, industrial and IoT sector.

Although the origin of flash memory technology can be traced back as far as 1959, the first official flash memory technology was commercialized back in the 1980s by Toshiba. This revolution in technology then led the way to other manufacturers creating devices such as multimedia cards, memory sticks and USB drives.

Further development of flash memory technology has enabled companies to implement this type of storage onto much smaller devices such as microSD cards. These flash memory storage devices are now a part of everyday life.

Flash memory is a type of EEPROM chip which stands for Electronically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory. It works by using in-circuit wiring which is then applied to the electrical field to either the entirety of the flash memory chip or certain areas known as blocks. This enables the user to erase specific parts rather than the whole memory. Once the area has been erased it can then be rewritten with the data you wish to transfer across.

With other types of memory storage this can be time consuming as it needs to completely rewrite the existing data before erasing it. But with flash memory technology, the initial erasure of data is quick, as it only amends the blocks you require. So, by using flash memory technology, it becomes faster and easier to erase and re-write data. The device then retains the data and settings for an extended period of time regardless of whether there is power to the flash memory storage

There are quite a few benefits to using flash memory instead of such devices as a physical hard disk. These are:

  • Flash memory storage is more compact and lighter than such devices as SSDs making them more portable
  • Low Power consumption, compared to traditional moving media devices flash memory only requires a fraction of the power to read / write and none when not being accessed (A moving media device requires constant power)
  • High transferring speeds provide faster read and write times.
  •  There are no moving parts inside the flash memory storage, as the flash drives are solid-state this means they are less vulnerable to damage.
  • The USB interface enables flash drives to connect to nearly any device. Resulting incompatibility with many devices and applications.
  • It is non-volatile so data will not be lost or altered when there is no power
  • Large data capacity
  • Ability to be electronically reprogrammed and erased.
  • You do not need internet access to view the contents of the flash memory storage

With the benefits of flash memory technology driving the evolution for storing or porting data, it is crucial that technology manufacturers choose the right flash memory solution specific to their application. This stresses the importance of working with a flash memory consultant who will not only help you source specialised graded flash memory cards but will ensure your device will meet expected performance requirements.

For personal flash memory storage, a basic USB drive may be all you need to store basic documents or images. But for manufacturers, the need for consistency, reliability as well as the ability to ensure the data is protected, means that the flash memory technology needs to be specialised, with the capability to customise it to the company’s application requirements. This is why we offer a fully customisable service which you can find out more about here.

When it comes to flash memory storage there are a lot of different factors to consider, there’s not just the size and type of flash memory to think about. Other aspects such as read/write speed, storage capacity, performance, and longevity are just as important. It can be a confusing process deciding which flash memory storage will work best. This is why we have created a blog post specifically about the different types of flash memory storage available, which you can read about here.

One of the most common forms of flash memory technology for manufacturers comes in the form of memory cards. There are many different varieties including SD, miniSD, micro-SD and MMC. These are smaller than a USB drive, but can be just as big in memory size. With higher capacities and fast transfer speeds flash memory storage cards are used in a variety of devices by manufacturers from cars to phones to IoT technology.

The main benefit for manufacturers is the size of the device. These small flash memory storage cards can fit a lot of data into them. This means it is an ideal tool for implementing into a device or machine without taking up too much space. Whether it is a hard drive in a Raspberry PI computer, a storage card for a games console, or a flash memory card in a car, these cards are used in a large number of machines and devices to help store data and even run programmes and retain settings.

Another common flash memory storage device that is mass-produced for consumers is USB drives. Introduced in 2002, these are compact in size, and are also known as a thumb drive because of their size. This form of flash memory encapsulate flash, offering high capacity, convenience, and fats transfer rates. The USB application allows you to transfer files between most devices with a USB interface. 

Finally, the newest application to flash technology is solid-state drives. The advancement in technology enables SSD’s to replace a computer hard drive. As this type of flash application has no moving parts, this practically means mechanical failure sits to near Zero. SSDs provide a number of benefits compared to traditional hard drives including faster response, access times and less power consumption. 

Where there is a need to store or port data you can guarantee that the application or device being used has some form of flash memory technology. With many sectors focused on digital transformation they are now taking a closer look at flash memory storage that will enable them to keep up with more complex data intensive processes. However, manufacturing and engineering industries are a particularly popular area when using flash memory storage.

Within these two industries the use of flash memory is vital in the creation of machines and devices such as phones, computers, and car infotainment systems.  In the modern age of technology, a large majority of the devices we use have some form of flash memory in them, even down to the doorbells that have video cameras linked up to them. So, manufacturers are a key user for flash memory technology.

The demand for flash memory storage within the engineering and manufacturing industries means it is vital that they have the ability to customise the device to work with their application. For example, some products will need to be able to withstand harsh environments and temperature whereas others will need to be able to support several devices or machines at a time. Other important outside factors to consider is that your memory and storage products may come up against vibration, high impact and frequent removal and interruption to power supply. Flash memory enables the ability of customisation – A service highly sought after in the manufacturing industry.