What is Flash Memory?

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Flash memory is a memory chip that is of the non-volatile nature. It’s present in devices such as USBs, memory cards and other storage devices. It helps with transferring data to other devices and can be electronically reprogramed/ erased. It can do all of this at a high speed which is where the ‘flash‘ part comes in. That’s the short end of it. But what else is there to know about Flash Memory?

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What’s the non-volatile part?

Non-volatile memory is memory that is able to retain its data even after power has been cut or taken away. The opposite can be said for volatile memory which needs constant power to retain its information.

What else can be said about Flash Memory?

Fun fact: This type of memory was created by Toshiba in the early 1970s. ( I’m talking about the Flash memory itself and not the memory where Flash plays that high five prank on Superman.)

  • It’s closer to hard disk drives than it is to RAM even though there are similarities between Flash memory and RAM. A lot of Flash memory devices are storage devices after all…
  • The memory does things in a flash but it is still slower then RAM (Random access memory).
  • It is a type of EEPROM chip (electrically erasable programmable ROM).
  • It may be similar to an EEPROM chip but it still differs with its capacity being bigger than that of EEPROM.
  • Flash memory is constantly rewritten whereas EEPROM is very rarely rewritten.
  • It makes use of NAND memory while EEPROM uses NOR memory.

Reasons why you’d use it.

  • It retains its information even after there is no power.
  • Many of these devices are quite easy to use.
  • It has an increased durability and is more silent due to the lack of moving parts unlike its Hard Disk Drive (HDD) counterpart with its mechanical parts.
  • Some of these devices are portable due to their smaller size making them perfect for on-the-go work.
  • They could be used with almost any external device. Take a USB for example, you could transfer files from almost any device that has a USB port.

Recommended: Different RAM Types and Their Differences.

Disadvantages of Flash memory.

  • It has a limited amount of cycles before it begins to wear out. This includes both read and write cycles. This may be true but I’ve rarely come across Flash Drives that gave in. But it is still said that most commercial devices withstand up to 100000 P/E cycles.
  • There is no write-protection mechanism present.
  • Because of these devices’ portable nature, it is quite easy to lose or misplace them.

And if you’re curious as to what other devices use flash memory, let me tell you.

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SSDs, SD cards, micro SD cards, digital cameras, smartphones, MP3 players, synthesizers, video games, PDAs… (breath) and…

There’s a bit more to it then what is written in this post. If you feel like I’ve missed anything or if you have any suggestions, feel free to leave a comment. Thanks for reading!

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