Wednesday, October 01, 2008

What is it, Why use a serial EEPROM?

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Serial EEPROMs are small Electronically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory chips. These devices are usually used to store user configurable parameters and device serial numbers. They use a serial bus interface, which allows them to be packaged in inexpensive 8 pin packages.
To you, the 8051 system designer, these little chips offer a nifty way to store a small amount of data in non-volatile memory, using only a few of the port pins, and without raising the system's cost much. They are usually specified to retain the data for 10 years and to endure 100,000 write operations before failure. They only require a 5 volt power supply (some 3V only versions exist too).
Because these chips use a serial interface, they can not be read quickly enough to serve as conventional memory. In addition, a considerable length of time (milliseconds) is required to perform a write operation. They typically hold less than 1024 bytes of memory. However, they usually cost less than $1.00 (US) for single piece quantities, making them pretty desirable memory devices for storing configuration parameters or other bits of information that should be retained when the power is lost.

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