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Advantages and Disadvantages of Flash Memory

What is Flash Memory?

Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory (EEPROM) and Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory (EPROM) are used for flash memory (EEPROM).

Although technically the word flash is used in the industry for a form of EEPROM that refers to bigger block-level erasable memory, whereas EEPROM is reserved for byte-level erasable memory.

If we notice the architecture of a flash memory, we will see that it is made up of three basic components: one transistor for storage purposes, one floating gate and one control gate. Oxide layers are used to make separation between these transistors. The floating gate regulates the movement of the electrical current while storing the electrical charge.

To alter the threshold voltage of the storage transistor, electrons are either supplied to or subtracted from the floating gate. Changes in voltage have an impact on whether a cell is set up as a zero or a one.

Fowler-Nordheim tunneling is the process we use to remove the electrons from the floating gate. The electrons are trapped in the floating gate by either channel hot-electron injection or Fowler-Nordheim tunneling.

Data is deleted using Fowler-Nordheim tunneling by applying a significant negative charge to the control gate.

Flash memory comes in two forms: NOR and NAND:

1. NOR flash memory:

Random access to data is made possible by NOR flash, which connects separate memory cells in parallel without using any shared components. Data read from NOR flash is quick, while writes and erases are often slower than those from NAND. Data is stored in NOR flash at the byte level.

2.  NAND flash memory:

In order to boost storage density, floating gate transistors are linked together in a NAND flash cell, which is smaller and has fewer bit lines. Pages, which are bigger than bytes but smaller than blocks, that's how NAND memory stores data.

For example, a page may be of size 4KB or 8B but the size of blocks can vary from KBs to MBs like 128KB or 512KB or 4MB etc. So the process where lot of writing operation is required NAND flash memory takes less power as compared to NOR flash memory.

Let's look at flash memory's benefits and drawbacks after examining flash memory and its varieties.

Advantages of Flash Memories:

  1. Flash memory has quick transfer rates. Flash memory can read and write data at a faster rate than a conventional hard disc drive.
  2. The majority of flash memories are available in many formats. Since more or the same capacity may be packed into smaller components, less area is needed to store data. So, it is quite compact also.
  3. Hard disc drives have seen constant dependability improvements over the past many years. However, flash memories are superior. This is again frequently caused by the absence of any moving parts. Flash memories are recommended for use in mobile devices due to their stability.
  4. Flash storage doesn't need any physical components to function. As a result, extremely little energy is needed for it to work. Additionally, as a result of this, no noise is produced.
  5. Flash memory's great degree of portability is another advantage. They are, therefore, primarily employed in compact and lightweight equipment. Examples include camera flash cards and USB memory sticks.

Disadvantages of Flash Memories:

  1. When compared to conventional hard disc drives, flash memory is always more expensive per gigabyte. This frequently occurs due to hard disc drives' historically low manufacturing costs. As a result, businesses with limited resources typically favor HDDs over other types of flash memory.
  2. Although flash memory is more resilient than a typical hard disc drive, they do not have an endless lifespan. When high voltages are put across transistors, it continues to decrease. However, most flash memories won't change until at least 10,000 rewrites have been performed.
  3. The fundamental problem with most EEPROMs is the unreasonably long processing time required to alter memory bytes at a time. Flash memory solves this problem by organizing bytes into "blocks," which drastically reduces the amount of time needed for editing. The procedure can be sped up by grouping the bytes into blocks, but users lose the ability to change individual bytes in the process.
  4. The program/erase process, which is used by many NAND flash memory drives to store data efficiently, eventually wears out and destroys flash drives. Flash memories are, therefore, not capable of supporting high write loads.