Home > EEPROMs, global semiconductor industry, Semiconductors, STMicroelectronics > ST’s dual-interface EEPROM helps remotely program and update electronic devices

ST’s dual-interface EEPROM helps remotely program and update electronic devices

March 13, 2010

STMicroelectronics recently introduced a dual-interface EEPROM. Featuring an innovative EEPROM memory architecture, which  opens new perspectives to customers, this EEPROM enables cost reduction and flexibility at all product life steps.

The dual-interface EEPROM has an EEPROM memory accessible via two different interfaces, namely:
* A standard I²C interface for integration into almost any electronic device or equipment; and
* A standard ISO15693 RF interface, which does not consume any on-board energy.

Users can remotely program and update the parameters of electronic devices or equipment, anytime during the product lifetime, anywhere in the supply chain. Other benefits include convenient remote and «zero on-board power» RF access to electronic devices enabling communication with hermetically sealed devices (medical, metering. etc.); high-reliability memory, featuring 40 years of data retention and 1 million erase-write cycles; unique and flexible password protection scheme for data protection, and industry-standard interfaces for easy integration.

These devices will now enable makers to update product parameters, regionalize or even activate software without connecting a programmer, or opening a retail packaging. This unique way to access memory could now see businesses add new functions and capabilities to their products, besides sreducing manufacturing costs, simplify inventory management, and respond more quickly to changing market demands.

ST's M24LR64 is an EEPROM memory with a standard I2C serial interface. Source: STMicroelectronics

ST's M24LR64 is an EEPROM memory with a standard I2C serial interface. Source: STMicroelectronics

The M24LR64 is an EEPROM memory with a standard I2C serial interface, providing communication with most MCUs or ASICs. It has a standard ISO15693 RF interface for RFID readers.

The ISO15693 standard is passive RFID, which gathers energy and the data from the RF system. No power is required to operate the M24LR64 in RF mode, which enables on-board energy savings and provides easy and convenient remote access to electronic product parameters.

Damien Leconte, Marketing Director, Memories & Secure Microcontrollers; Greater China & South Asia Region for STMicrocontrollers, said: “We have a full family of products, which can be used in consumer, industrial, telecom, automotive, etc. The added value products are system products, etc.

“We also have the RFID version — with an RF interface. This is typically what you see in transportation applications. These have two interfaces — serial and RF. This is the origin of the dual interface products.”

“The dual-interace EEPROM uses an innovative EEPROM memory architecture, which opens new perspectives to our customers. It enables cost reduction and flexibility at all product life steps. The cost red will be in managing inventory, efficient prodn line, maintenance costs, etc. The targeted applications include industrial and medical, automotive, peripherals, communication and consumer, RFID, etc. We beileve that customers will also go on to find newer use cases.”

Users can remotely program and update the parameters of electronic devices or equipment, anytime during the product lifetime, anywhere in the supply chain. You may also want to change some parameters in the PCB, due to a variety of reasons. Hence, with the dual interface, you can change the content of the memory. It will help reduce costs, and avoid doing a lot of handling on the ground.

The reader, which is powering the device, and the modulator communicates information to the memory. In an RFID system, the memory side is not powered. The reader is powering the RFID memory. It is sending information to the memory by modulating. You don’t need power on the go. The power is obtained from the RFID field.

Leconte added: “We have a password protection scheme, You can enable this unique and flexible password protection scheme for data protection and to prevent unauthorized users.”

Users can now upgrade the firmware remotely. A use case example is metering — all you need to do is to download data from a reader without any human intervention. The maintenance can be done via live firmware update.

Another example is in medical. You have a reader that reads data — it is connected to your computer, which you send to the doctor. If the data is incorrect, the doctor can contact you.

The EEPROM family is currently sampling and will be ready by H2-2010.

EEPROM market trends
Commenting on the EEPROM market trends, Leconte said: “The market is currently in the range of $800-900 million. The market has been quite stable in terms of value, but growing significantly over the last five years. Our share is in the range of 27-28 percent. We have been no. 1 in the market for the last four to five years, according to iSuppli.

“Our main competitors are Atmel, NXP, OnSemi, Microchip. On an average, the market has been growing in volume. The year 2009 was a bit exceptional. Now, we are seeing a full recovery. So, we will see similar range of growth in 2010 as we saw in 2008.”

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    Good technical article.

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