Intel introduces StrataFlash memory for digital set-tops

Leading chip manufacturer Intel announced a new innovation in digital set top boxes this week. StrataFlash memory can be used by satellite vendors and cable networks. Companies expected to benefit include Scientific-Atlanta, Motorola Broadband Communications Sector, Thomson multimedia and Hughes Network Systems.

Intel claims to have become the leading flash supplier in the set-top box market segment in the last few years. The company now supplies its set-top box customers with three volt Intel StrataFlash memory. The product is four times faster than traditional flash memory, helping faster code execution code and data storage in handheld devices. Intel also manufactures computers and is actively involved in the networking space.

Digital set-tops are used to provide television feed and electronic program guides. They also help customers browse the Internet. Flash memory allows set-top boxes to store system software, viewer-specific settings and other application programs. These are updated frequently through a digital television broadcast signal, enabling cable operators to forego the hassles of updating information manually. Flash memory is not affected by abrupt power cuts and can retain programmed features and data settings in the event of electricity failure.

Currently, most operators transfer content digitally. This has created a demand for Intel StrataFlash memory at higher densities ranging from 32- to 128-Mbit. In the past, analog set-top boxes used 4- to 8-Mbit flash chips from other flash suppliers. The product is cost-effective as it uses innovative multi-level cell (MLC) technology, claims Intel.

Intel was the first company to introduce MLC technology in volume with Intel StrataFlash memory in 1997. Since then it claims to have shipped more than 2 billion megabits of StrataFlash memory. Intel StrataFlash memory is available in multiple packages. The 56-lead TSOP package is used for easy migration from existing memory devices, while the 64-ball Easy BGA package provides SOP reliability and long-term footprint compatibility and cost in a chip scale package size. The VF BGA and Intel Stacked-CSP packages offer small footprints for wireless applications.

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