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Parallel NOR trumps SPI in embedded applications

Posted: 28 May 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:SPI? flash? NOR? parallel? serial?

Hiro Ino, senior director of product line management for Spansion's flash memory group, said that level of reliability is crucial. "If the system gets corrupted, it's a catastrophic failure. The data has to be resilient and robust."

Speed is also crucial, especially in the growing automotive segment; drivers expect their digital dashboards to start up quickly. These displays used to be mechanical, but now they are extremely graphics intensive. "When you turn the ignition on, the first thing the driver wants is for the instrument cluster to pop up right away," he said. A serial device would take about 15 seconds to start up, while a parallel device would take roughly 10 seconds.

In February, Spansion took its NOR flash offering to another level with the introduction of its HyperFlash line of NOR memory devices, which feature read throughput of up to 333MB/s. Ino said this is more than five times faster than ordinary Quad SPI flash with one-third the number of pins of parallel NOR flash. Bringing it back to the car analogy, HyperFlash allows vehicle instrumentation to come online in approximately three seconds.

Durability is also important, he said. In a car and other equipment, these devices have to withstand a wide range of temperatures. In addition, once the memory is in the equipment, customers do not want to have access physically the device's guts (including the memory) for long periods of time. This is particularly true for field applications such as wireless bay stations or digital signage.

"If they aren't reliable enough, servicemen will have to go in and fix it," Ino said. "The maintenance costs are very expensive."

- Gary Hilson
??EE Times

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