Flash Memory Boom

Nov 08, 2005 feature
Flash Memory

If you’re not familiar with flash memory, you should be. It’s poised to make a whole host of older technologies obsolete – all to your advantage. You probably own some and are not even aware of it. If you have a digital camera, newer cell phone, USB memory, Ipod or Palm PC - a flash memory is built into every one of these devices.

Flash memory is not a new technology – it has been around for the last 20 years. It was invented by Dr. Fujio Masuoka while working for Toshiba in 1984. What’s new is low price and high availability.

The way flash memory works is fairly straight forward: information is stored in cells with each cell holding a one or zero – the binary numbering system all computers use. These cells are known as floating gate transistors and are arranged in arrays for rapid access.

Even though accessing these cells is slow compared to regular RAM – the Random Access Memory that your computer uses - flash memory has one major benefit: it does not need a constant supply of electricity to store data. This makes it perfect for devices using batteries like digital cameras, pocket PCs and cell phones.

Flash memories also make great storage devices to carry MP3s, images and data files. Instead of using a floppy disk - with a low capacity of just 1.44 MBs - to move your files from home to work, for example, you can get a USB flash memory - models ranging from 128MB up to 2GB.

Prices range from giveaway to several hundred dollars. $50 will get you a decent quality memory that will have enough space for most needs. MP3 fanatics will want larger capacity models as song libraries frequently run over 1 GB.

Samsung even has a 32GB monster memory under development – almost the capacity of a standard hard drive.

These memories have replaced CDs as my primary way to move information. They cost more initially, but save over the long run with their ability to be erased and reused. On top of that, they transfer data much faster and are more reliable.

USB Memory

It’s predicted in the long run these devices will even replace your computer’s hard drive. Two factors are currently blocking this change: First, they cost more per GB – about 10 times more at the writing of this article. Second, they have a limited number of erase operations that can be preformed depending on the type – anywhere from low of 10,000 to a high of 1,000,000. So they do wear out – but only after long, hard use.

I’ve actually run small databases on USB Flash Memories and they can last for several years before needing to be replaced.

Another huge benefit is their size. An SD flash memory is smaller than a postage stamp and almost as thin; it can hold up to 1GB of data. No competing technology can offer this ratio of size to megabyte of storage.

Since the technology is still relatively young there are competing standards making it harder to choose which type of memory to buy. The best bet is to stick the recommended memory type for your specific device. If you have the option of buying faster memory – usually offered as an upgrade when purchasing digital cameras – it’s a good idea if you plan on taking a lot of photos. Digital cameras need time to “write” to their memories meaning you must wait a few seconds after taking a photo for the camera to process and save the image before you can take another picture. Faster memory reduces this wait time.

For transferring data from one computer to another, I prefer generic USB memories. These memories plug into virtually all computers and show up as another storage device in My PC. They also do not require a special card reader – necessary for the card and stick memory types - since most computers 5 years old or less have built in USB ports.

6 in 1 card readers that handle all the major flash memory types illustrated are cheap – less than $60. They come with a USB cable to connect to your computer.

Get the largest memory you can afford as the price per MB is less and the extra space will come in handy. Then you can enjoy the freedom of carrying all your files with you in one easy-to-use compact device.

by Chuck Rahls, Copyright 2005 PhysOrg.com

Explore further: Microsoft beefs up security protection in Windows 10

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Sk Hynix logs all-time high Q3 earnings

Oct 23, 2014

SK Hynix, the world's second-largest memory chip maker, reported Thursday a record high quarterly net profit for the three months to September on strong sales and currency earnings.

Kickstarter suspends privacy router campaign

Oct 20, 2014

Kickstarter has suspended an anonymizing router from its crowdfunding site. By Sunday, the page for "anonabox: A Tor hardware router" carried an extra word "(Suspended)" in parentheses with a banner below ...

Rock-dwelling microbes remove methane from deep sea

Oct 15, 2014

Methane-breathing microbes that inhabit rocky mounds on the seafloor could be preventing large volumes of the potent greenhouse gas from entering the oceans and reaching the atmosphere, according to a new ...

Recommended for you

Microsoft beefs up security protection in Windows 10

20 hours ago

What Microsoft users in business care deeply about—-a system architecture that supports efforts to get their work done efficiently; a work-centric menu to quickly access projects rather than weather readings ...

US official: Auto safety agency under review

Oct 24, 2014

Transportation officials are reviewing the "safety culture" of the U.S. agency that oversees auto recalls, a senior Obama administration official said Friday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been criticized ...

Out-of-patience investors sell off Amazon

Oct 24, 2014

Amazon has long acted like an ideal customer on its own website: a freewheeling big spender with no worries about balancing a checkbook. Investors confident in founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' invest-and-expand ...

Ebola.com domain sold for big payout

Oct 24, 2014

The owners of the website Ebola.com have scored a big payday with the outbreak of the epidemic, selling the domain for more than $200,000 in cash and stock.

Hacker gets prison for cyberattack stealing $9.4M

Oct 24, 2014

An Estonian man who pleaded guilty to orchestrating a 2008 cyberattack on a credit card processing company that enabled hackers to steal $9.4 million has been sentenced to 11 years in prison by a federal judge in Atlanta.

Magic Leap moves beyond older lines of VR

Oct 24, 2014

Two messages from Magic Leap: Most of us know that a world with dragons and unicorns, elves and fairies is just a better world. The other message: Technology can be mindboggingly awesome. When the two ...

User comments : 0