Atmel Corp. has begun shipping what is believed to be the largest and fastest serial flash device, designed to reduce system cost in data and code storage applications.
The AT45DB1282, the newest member of Atmel's DataFlash family, has 128Mbits of capacity and features a 40MHz serial interface and a 20MHz 8-bit interface.
DataFlash is used for applications like digital voice recorders, digital image storage, and code shadowing. Atmel claims it can replace conventional code flash, data flash, and serial EEPROM.
"We're finding people using DataFlash as the only nonvolatile memory in their system, taking potentially three chips and putting in one 8-pin footprint," said Dirk Franklin, director of marketing for DataFlash at Atmel, San Jose.
In a telephone answering machine application, one customer cut its code size in half by replacing a NAND device with DataFlash. The Atmel device has smaller erase blocks than conventional NAND or NOR, allowing more efficient use of storage capacity, thus simpler application software, Franklin said.
Because serial interfaces require fewer signal traces than parallel devices, some customers may be able to switch to circuit boards with fewer layers. "Instead of knocking 10 to 20 cents off a chip's price, you can try to knock $2 to $3 off the total system cost," he said.
Serial flash is a niche market with a handful of suppliers, but it is growing quickly as a replacement for slower parallel flash, according to Alan Niebel, an analyst at Web-Feet Research, Monterey, Calif.
Though Atmel has a roadmap for DataFlash density beyond 1Gbit using multilevel-cell technology, the company said it won't try to compete with NAND in large memory arrays, such as removable mass storage.
The AT45DB1282 has a page size of 1,056 bytes and dual SRAM buffers. The 40MHz RapidS serial interface has a maximum read throughput of 5Mbytes/s and is compatible with the SPI bus up to 33MHz. The 20MHz Rapid8 interface delivers 20Mbyte/s maximum read throughput. Programming throughput is 26.3Kbytes/s.
Samples are available in 44-ball CBGA or 40-pin TSOP type-1. Volume production is slated for this quarter, priced at $10.50 in quantities of 100,000.