Memory suits smart home products, really

July 19, 2017 Rich Nass

When I first saw this announcement from Adesto Technologies about memory targeting smart-home devices, I have to admit I was somewhat skeptical. Memory is memory, right? Sometimes it’s in a smaller package, sometimes it consumes less power, sometimes it can withstand high (or low) temperatures and other rugged environments. But at the end of the day, it simply stores one and zeros.

According to the company, its new DataFlash-L memory is designed for low-power operation and higher system efficiency, features needed for wireless edge devices. When you put these characteristics together, and throw in some battery-management techniques, the light bulb starts to go on and I can see where they’re coming from with the push toward smart-home/home automation.

The memory’s power-saving features include a wide operating voltage range (Vcc), from 1.65 to 3.6 V, and a low-power mode. While maximizing battery power, this feature also minimizes the need for on-board capacitors, reducing cost, board area, and heat.

Devices designed with DataFlash-L memory can operate from unregulated battery supplies and may not require low-drop-out (LDO) or boost regulators to manage the power supply rail in the event of a power-failure. The low-power mode lets the device function with a standby current below 400 nA.

In terms of efficiency, the memory includes a page-erase feature and enough built-in smarts to automatically manage internal programming and erase tasks. This reduces CPU overhead by offloading memory management tasks. And as you’d expect, comprehensive security and unique identification features are included to protect stored data and prevent outside hacking.

One more caveat—the DataFlash-L is a pin-compatible alternative to Micron’s M25PE memory series which is also used in similar applications. Samples are available now, with mass production starting in the fourth quarter.

About the Author

Rich Nass

Richard Nass is the Executive Vice-President of OpenSystems Media. His key responsibilities include setting the direction for all aspects of OpenSystems Media’s Embedded and IoT product portfolios, including web sites, e-newsletters, print and digital magazines, and various other digital and print activities. He was instrumental in developing the company's on-line educational portal, Embedded University. Previously, Nass was the Brand Director for UBM’s award-winning Design News property. Prior to that, he led the content team for UBM Canon’s Medical Devices Group, as well all custom properties and events in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Nass has been in the engineering OEM industry for more than 25 years. In prior stints, he led the Content Team at EE Times, handling the Embedded and Custom groups and the TechOnline DesignLine network of design engineering web sites. Nass holds a BSEE degree from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

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