|The NVM Insider, Issue 12|
|Page 2 - Executive Opinion|
|Page 3 - Outside Thoughts|
|Page 4 - Sidense Out and About|
As we move towards the midpoint of 2011, the semiconductor industry continues to advance nicely. On June 8, the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization raised its 2011 global chip market growth forecast to $314.4 billion, an increase of 5.4% over 2010. WSTS also predicts 7.6% annual growth to create a global chip market of $338.4 billion in 2012. While the numbers appear modest, in light of global economic turbulence over the past several months the industry is doing relatively well.
Consumer demand in both established and emerging geographic regions is fueling the continued resurgence of the semiconductor industry after its poor showing in 2009, with much of the growth coming from rapidly growing segments such as mobile devices and automotive electronics. However, mobile and consumer application requirements along with chip manufacturers are pushing silicon foundries to develop new and advanced nodes in order to have a competitive edge in their businesses. Utilizing the advanced chip-processing technology offered by the top semiconductor foundries is a major factor in the ability of chip developers to march along to the beat of Moore's Law.
Analyst reports from IHS iSuppli suggest a strong market for NAND and DRAM memories, which will be good news to related non-volatile memory devices such as one-time programmable technologies.
If the latest reports are accurate, the mobile memory market will be worth $16.4 billion in 2011. IHS iSuppli researchers report that NAND memory will be the largest product segment this year, followed closely by mobile DRAM. NAND and mobile DRAM are used increasingly in high-end smart phones and tablets. In third place will be NOR memory devices, which are used mainly in lower-end mobile handsets in steadily decreasing amounts.
Before I go further, let's have a short refresher on the alphabet soup that is the world of memory acronyms. The two main types of memory used today are Random-Access Memory (RAM) and Read-Only Memory (ROM). RAM has very fast access times but burns a lot of power. ROM has much slower access rates but burns less power. The main difference between the two is that RAM needs a constant supply of power to retain its data. ROM retains its data even when power is removed. ROM is an example of non-volatile memory (NVM).
NAND flash is the dominant type of non-volatile memory technology used today. Developers commonly face difficulties developing and maintaining firmware, middleware and hardware IP for interfacing with raw NAND devices. After reviewing the history and differentiated features of various memory devices, we'll take a detailed look at common obstacles to NAND device development and maintenance, particularly for embedded and system-on-chip (SoC) developers, and provide some recommendations for handling these challenges.
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