BACKGROUND: How can we store hundreds of songs on pocket-sized portable devices, like Apple's iPods? Flash memory chips are the technology behind the multimedia capability of most of today's electronic devices. Digital cameras can have flash drives; and memory cards can store many different kinds of media: everything from sound and music files downloaded from the Internet, to personal photographs and digitally recorded video clips, even satellite radio.
ABOUT FLASH MEMORY: There are many forms of electronic memory, depending on the application. Flash memory is used for fast and easy information storage in devices like digital cameras and home video game consoles. It is not the same thing as RAM, which stores temporary files and is erased when you turn the computer off. (Flash RAM is used in car radios, and requires an external power source -- the car battery -- to maintain its contents.) Flash memory is used more like a hard drive for permanent, yet portable, data storage.
ADVANTAGES OF FLASH MEMORY: Flash memory offers many advantages. It is noiseless and allows faster access. It is also lighter and smaller in size, and it has no moving parts. The reason we don't use it for everything is because it is more expensive than the cost per megabyte for a conventional hard disk, which is not only cheaper, but also has much more storage capacity. As scientists continue to make improvements in the speed and storage capability of flash memory chips, we will see more and more extra features on gadgets in terms of enhanced visual, audio and memory capabilities.
SOME COMMON USES OF FLASH MEMORY:
- Your computer's BIOS chip
- CompactFlash (digital cameras)
- SmartMedia (digital cameras)
- Memory Stick (digital cameras)
- PCMCIA memory cards (laptops)
- Memory cards for video game consoles
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.