Thursday, 13 May 2010

What is Flash Memory?

Flash memory (sometimes called "flash RAM") is a type of constantly-powered nonvolatile memory that can be erased and reprogrammed in units of memory called blocks. It is a variation of electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM) which, unlike flash memory, is erased and rewritten at the byte level, which is slower than flash memory updating. Flash memory is often used to hold control code such as the basic input/output system (BIOS) in a personal computer. When BIOS needs to be changed (rewritten), the flash memory can be written to in block (rather than byte) sizes, making it easy to update. On the other hand, flash memory is not useful as random access memory (RAM) because RAM needs to be addressable at the byte (not the block) level.

Flash memory gets its name because the microchip is organized so that a section of memory cells are erased in a single action or "flash." The erasure is caused by Fowler-Nordheim tunneling in which electrons pierce through a thin dielectric material to remove an electronic charge from a floating gate associated with each memory cell. Intel offers a form of flash memory that holds two bits (rather than one) in each memory cell, thus doubling the capacity of memory without a corresponding increase in price.

Flash memory is used in digital cellular phones, digital cameras, LAN switches, PC Cards for notebook computers, digital set-up boxes, embedded controllers, and other devices.

Zip Drive...

A Zip drive is a small, portable disk drive used primarily for backing up and archiving personal computer files. The trademarked Zip drive was developed and is sold by Iomega Corporation. Zip drives and disks come in two sizes. The 100 megabyte size actually holds 100,431,872 bytes of data or the equivalent of 70 floppy diskettes. There is also a 250 megabyte drive and disk. The Iomega Zip drive comes with a software utility that lets you copy the entire contents of your hard drive to one or more Zip disks.

In addition to data backup, Iomega suggests these additional uses:

  • Archiving old e-mail or other files you don't use any more but may want to access someday
  • Storing unusually large files, such as graphic images that you need infrequently
  • Exchanging large files with someone
  • Putting your system on another computer, perhaps a portable computer
  • Keeping certain files separate from files on your hard disk (for example, personal finance files)

The Zip drive can be purchased in either a parallel or a Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) version. In the parallel version, a printer can be chained off the Zip drive so that both can be plugged into your computer's parallel port.