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Can flash memory reduce MCU system power consumption?

December 28, 2020

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Devices are increasingly designed to use microcontrollers with limited on-chip embedded memory, or to avoid flash memory altogether. One of the reasons is that although memory of any size and capacity can be embedded, the natural trend of gradually shrinking the size in order to achieve higher performance makes the cost of built-in or expanded embedded memory too high.


         New high-performance controllers, such as flash-free NXP RT series MCUs, are removing embedded flash memory to meet the price and performance requirements of today’s device design for the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

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This means that external SPI flash is gradually becoming the focus of attention. The ensuing challenge is how to seamlessly operate with the MCU to ensure that its CPU performance is not affected, while also reducing power consumption to a minimum.

  In order to be an ideal partner of MCU, external flash memory must:

  Perform low power consumption and fast read and write operations;

  Provide ultra-low power sleep mode;

  Reduce the CPU cycles required to erase and store data;

  Reduce or eliminate bus transactions between MCU and flash memory required to determine the status;

  Avoid using the system RAM buffer when modifying the data stored in the flash memory.

  Dialog Semiconductor’s new FusionHD NOR Flash has these features built in. While FusionHD reduces the overall system energy consumption by as much as 70%, it also runs 5 times faster than competing flash memory devices.

  FusionHD achieves this performance by utilizing a low-power architecture with a series of system enhancements. These functions include:

  Small page erase (page erase) architecture provides faster write performance and lower system power consumption;

  The easy-to-implement active interrupt function can prevent the MCU from wasting precious CPU cycles and power to monitor the flash memory status;

  A single Read Modify Write command can simplify the software, speed up data logging, and reduce CPU overhead.

  In addition, FusionHD also has many other energy-saving features, making it ideal for next-generation power-sensitive or battery-powered circuit designs that require code storage, data storage, or intensive data logging.