What is 'flash memory'?

These revision cards will go through the nuts and crannies of flash memory.

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When you save files, for example, pictures, songs and video files, you might have a number of different storage options. You might save them onto a CD or DVD. You might save them onto a portable drive. Or you might save them onto a flash memory device.

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Examples of flash memory

Examples of flash memory devices include:

  • SM (smart media) memory cards.
  • micro SD memory cards
  • memory cards for video games
  • pen drives (memory sticks)
  • ROM chips in computers.
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Solid state

The defining characteristic of these types of memory devices is that there are no moving parts. Everything is electronically saved. For this reason, flash memory devices are also known as solid state devices. An additional benefit of this is that solid state devices require very little power to run them (because there are no moving parts that need energy to move them). They can therefore get the tiny power they need from whatever they are plugged into.

If you have ever taken a hard disk apart or read about how they work, you will know that mechanical parts are used inside the hard drive, to read and write data to disks. In optical devices that read to and write from CDs and DVDs, there are also moving parts, which take up energy to make them move. The main problem with moving parts is that over time, they wear out and fail and they also don't like to be bashed about too much. Flash memory devices on the other hand have no moving parts because they use solid state technology and so there are no parts to wear out. They are also not quite as easily damaged by movement and being dropped (although you do still have to look after them).

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