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Gain from non-volatile memory in flash-based MCUs

Posted: 02 Jun 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MCUs? non-volatile memory? ROM? serial EEPROM?

Most applications that require an MCU also need some mechanism to store settings that will be remembered even when power is removed. For example, a radio that forgets its station presets when the battery is changed isn't going to be particularly successful in the market. Customers expect that favorite stations, temperature presets, preferences and other persistent information will be saved from one use to the next.

To meet this customer expectation, designers traditionally use a serial EEPROM. These devices are small, inexpensive and have a long history that makes the design engineer comfortable with their use. However, in today's cost-sensitive marketplace, even an inexpensive device may break the budget. It is tempting, therefore, to seek a resource already included on the MCU chip itself: leftover space in the program flash.

In the past, many MCUs would use ROM or UV-erasable EPROM to store program instructions. But increasingly, MCUs turn to flash technologies for code storage. The main reason for choosing flash memory is that it can be erased and updated if errors are found in the program code.

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