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Parallel interface NOR outperforms SPI flash

Posted: 29 May 2014     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:SPI  NOR flash  NAND  infotainment  serial interface 

Serial peripheral interface (SPI) flash has been, for the most part, a primary choice for designers because of its lower cost and power consumption. However, for some embedded applications, parallel interface NOR flash delivers high performance and security features that will address those concerns.

"System designers prefer to use SPI rather than parallel flash, especially in consumer applications," said Brady Wang, principal research analyst at Gartner. "The serial interface offers several benefits over the parallel interface, including lower overall systems costs, smaller and simpler PCBs, and lower power consumption." As a result, the share of serial memory revenue increased from 19.8 per cent in 2010 to 46.5 per cent in 2013, and it is expected to hit 64.7 per cent in 2017, and almost all mid- and low-density NOR flash are serial in 2014.

Though NOR flash, including parallel NOR, continues to have specific application uses where speed and performance are a factor, an IHS report issued in February said it continues to struggle, especially in relation to NAND flash. The NOR market has been steadily declining since 2007.

Wang said that, even though the applications for mid- and high-density parallel NOR flash are limited, they do enjoy better margins than others. Since parallel can provide fast reading speed, it could be used in performance-driven applications, such as automotive displays, wired devices such as set-top boxes and industrial roles.

In 2013, Wang said, the major parallel NOR flash vendors were Micron (with 34.8 per cent of the market), Spansion (32.1 per cent), Macronix (eight per cent) and Microchip Technology (4.1 per cent).

This month, Microchip introduced its SST38VF6401B parallel flash memory device, which offers high performance with flexible read and write options, including random read access time of 70ns and page read access time of 25ns. Randy Drwinga, VP of Microchip's memory products division, said the ST38VF6401B can be used in a variety of applications including those in the consumer, automotive and industrial markets.

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