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Serial flash breaks 128Mbit barrier

Posted: 04 Nov 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:256Mbit serial flash? NOR flash? flash memory?

MX25L25635E 256Mbit serial flash

Macronix International Co. Ltd has unveiled what it claims to be the first 256Mbit serial flash product. The MX25L25635E is based on a 32bit addressing scheme that extends serial flash density while supporting the existing 24bit addressing for backward compatibility. The 256Mbit serial flash provides a small form factor, low pin count, and reduces the overall system cost in many of today's applications, like networking, STBs and servers.

"Macronix has enhanced its leadership position in serial flash by being the first company to offer the highest density 256Mbit product in the market," said Alan Niebel, CEO and founder of Web-Feet Research. "The serial flash market is the fastest growing NOR flash segment increasing from $645 million in 2009 and with the addition of the 256Mbit serial part it should reach $2,036 million by 2014."

Serial flash products are currently based on a 24bit addressing protocol which caps the maximum density at 128Mbit. However, as manufacturers introduce complex and feature rich products, their memory requirements are changing and system designers are looking for densities greater than 128Mbit to store their code and/or applications. With the current architecture there is no viable solution to this issue.

Macronix also claims to be the first serial flash company to break through the 128Mbit density barrier. The 256Mbit serial flash uses a combination of 24bit and 32bit addressing to maintain backward compatibility. The new 256Mbit part powers up like a 128Mbit device in 24bit mode and a user can switch to 32bit addressing as needed. Using this method, a system designer will not have to completely rewrite the software.

"Many of the newer markets including VoIP network processors require high density flash memory," said Shahin Rohani, director of applications and customer solutions at TranSwitch Corp. "Recognizing Macronix as a leader in serial flash and the first company to introduce the highest density 256Mbit serial flash, we are looking forward to using these devices in our upcoming designs."

Flash innovations

The Macronix 256Mbit serial flash product is targeted for feature-rich applications that require higher storage space and performance, while maintaining the low pin count and overall system cost. Some of these applications are networking systems, WiMAX, STBs, servers, high-end projectors, DTVs and similar products. Another key market is FPGAs, where a large amount of code needs to be downloaded from flash.

The new 256Mbit serial flash not only enhances the density, but also offers high performance through Macronix Serial Multi-I/O. The MX25L25635E supports single, dual, and quad I/O capability for higher throughput while maintaining the same package and pin numbers of traditional serial flash. This fast performance makes the 256Mbit device suited for code and user data storage, and is capable of code XIP (execute-in-place) directly from flash.

Some of the MX25L25635E features are SPI compliance; 24bit mode and 32bit mode addressing; 4Kbyte sectors, and 32KByte/64Kbyte block for flexible software architecture; 256-bytes per page programming, with single-byte programming capability; operating voltage range of 2.7V to s3.6V; secured 4Kbit OTP; it supports common serial flash interface with discoverable memory capabilities); and operates in the industrial temperature grade.

It offers 80, -140- and 280MBps performance for single, dual and quad I/O respectively. Programming time is typically 1.4ms for a 256byte page, while erase time is 60ms (typical) for 4Kbyte sector; 0.5s (typical) for 32Kbyte sector; and 0.7s (typical) for 64Kbyte block.

The MX25L25635E, 256Mbit multi I/O serial flash comes in an industry standard Pb-free, RoHS compliant 16-pin SOIC package. It is sampling now and mass production is scheduled for December.

For application notes on serial flash click here.

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