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Winbond Introduces First Very-Low-Voltage Flash Memories

Published: Jun 29,2017

TAICHUNG, Taiwan - Winbond Electronics Corporation today announced a dramatic expansion of its flash product portfolio with the introduction of its lowest-voltage SpiFlash memories to date. At 1.2 and 1.5V – the industry’s lowest NOR Flash voltages – and in 8-pin packages.

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These newest members of the SpiFlash family provide designers with serial flash memories for audio, wearable, IoT and other demanding applications that call for low power in small packages. Their low voltages and 52 megabytes per second transfer rate make the new SpiFlash memories optimal for a broad range of consumer and industrial applications.

The 1.2V products cover an operating voltage range from 1.14V to 1.3V, which is ideal for very-low-power designs. The 1.5V devices have a wider operating voltage range -- from 1.14V through 1.6V -- giving portable designs the advantage of sustained battery operation, both when the battery is fresh and when its voltage decreases from use and/or time.

Winbond’s two new lines of low-voltage SpiFlash memories provide low standby and power-down currents, along with the lowest read current at high clock frequency. Their market leading low power capability enables designs with longer battery life. The extended 1.5V memory also takes full advantage of the popular 1.5V battery technology’s operating voltage range. This ensures that the device is operational and supports the full voltage range from the time the battery is fresh to when it reaches its end point at the lowest operating voltage of 1.14V.

“As the Internet of Things expands to 50 billion connected devices by 2020, sensors on the edge will need the lowest-power serial NOR flash to prolong battery life,” said Alan Niebel, president of WebFeet Research, an independent market-research firm.

“Winbond's 1.2V serial quad NOR should use significantly less power than competing higher-voltage NOR components. This will be quite useful for wearables, industrial, mobile, and Bluetooth IoT products that are battery powered or use energy harvesting.”

Most serial flash devices are used for code shadowing, when the code stored in flash is transferred to DRAM for execution, and for data storage. The other common use is in execute-in-place (XIP) applications, where read performance is important and in which code is executed directly from flash.

These two families of low-voltage products support QSPI and QPI with 52Mbytes per second performance for XIP operation, which is comparable to the performance of existing 1.8V and 3V serial flash products in the market.

Since it can deliver 52Mbytes per second read performance and fast program/erase times, the memories complement all chipsets that support 1.2V and extended 1.5V range. These products deliver serial flash performance most consumer, industrial and other low-power applications require.

“Winbond’s low power serial flash products have been ideally positioned for IoT applications and smart connected devices,” said Teo Swee Ann, Espressif Systems’ CEO. “The Winbond 1.2V serial flash device pushes the envelope further and with our ultra low power ESP32 WiFi-Bluetooth combo chip, it has demonstrated its capability to help us further reduce power consumption; it has been tested successfully on our systems and we hope to bring this in the form of a module to the market as soon as possible.”

The new very-low-voltage SpiFlash memories’ features also contribute to printed circuit board (PCB) space savings. In place of the larger power-management ICs, smaller low-dropout regulators can be used due to the design’s lower voltages, saving PCB area and bill-of-materials costs. Because of the ultra-low stand-by power of the SpiFlash devices, battery usage time gets extended and devices can be operated for a much longer period of time. Additionally, the lower voltages reduce noise coupling, which provides for more-compact PCB designs.

“Expanding the SpiFlash family to include very-low-voltage serial flash memories gives designers the ability to create systems that save significant power and materials cost,” said JW Park, VP of Flash Memory Marketing at Winbond Electronics Corporation America. “Winbond developed these 1.2V and 1.5V low-voltage families to give designers the additional capability of having a single, small-footprint design that can span across the full range of densities -- from 1Mb through 128Mb.”

To ensure meeting the growing global demand for high-volume solutions, Winbond SpiFlash memories are manufactured in the company’s 12-inch wafer fabrication facility in Taichung, Taiwan.

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