Embedded non-volatile memory is a small chip found in microcontrollers and other hardware to store data. The stored data is for data encryption, programming, trimming, identification, coding and redundancy purposes.
It’s common sense that we need to be meticulous and pay attention to a variety of factors when choosing a microcontroller for our project. If we only pay attention to one part of the microcontroller, the other one may not be compatible or even worse clash with the whole project! The devil is in the details.
There is a list of factors to consider, but today we’re only going to focus on one, memory! More specifically, embedded non-volatile microcontroller memory. Understanding is fair for the most part, but only when it comes to basic programs! On the other hand, when trying to develop a more sophisticated application like TinyML, a better understanding of memory will go a long way toward maximizing the performance of our beloved microcontrollers.
What is embedded persistent disk?
Before we get into the details and all the fun stuff, we need to know what exactly we’re learning today. Embedded non-volatile memory is a small chip found in microcontrollers and other hardware used to store data. The stored data is used for data encryption, programming, trimming, identification, coding and redundancy.
The word “embedded” in embedded memory means it is memory on a chip that is soldered directly onto the microcontroller. It is embedded and generally has higher performance with a higher speed compared to non-embedded memory. It’s not as fast as a solid-state drive, but still faster than a hard disk drive!
The word “non-volatile” means that the memory chip retains its data even without electrical power. For example, USB flash drives (thumb drives) are considered non-volatile storage devices because they retain their memory after being disconnected (loss of power). RAM (Random Access Memory) on your PCs is volatile memory, meaning they lose their data without power.
How does non-volatile memory retain its data?
Electricity is one of the components that storage devices need to keep their memory. Non-volatile memory contains special transistors, which contain a small piece of conductive material surrounded by a layer of insulator called a “floating gate”. When the microcontroller is powered, a small number of current tunnels through the insulation to the floating gate, where it is trapped by the surrounding insulation. The current can enter because of the high voltage but cannot exit because of the low voltage. This is how non-volatile memory keeps its data!
Why you should know about the different types of memory
The main reason you should know the different memory types available is to ensure that the microcontroller you choose has the memory type that is most efficient for your project needs!
What are the different types of embedded persistent disks?
So far you have learned that embedded non-volatile memory is a chip soldered onto a microcontroller that stores data and retains it even after a power failure.
In general, microcontrollers have read-mostly memory (RMM). There are different types of RMM in microcontrollers. We will now go into the details, examples, and uses of the different types of memories.