Industrial Electronics Gain Greater Manufacturing Flexibility With Embedded Memory

What comes after EEPROM and NOR flash and why it’s so critical.


While IoT continues to capture the semiconductor industry’s collective imagination, not to be overlooked is the industrial electronics market. Just consider the wide swath industrial electronics cuts. It could be anything related to electrical equipment in an industrial setting, and includes everything from control systems, instrumentation, mechanicals and diagnostics to signal processing and automation.

The market itself is as diverse and runs the gamut –– laboratories, automotive, chemical processing, power or oil, gas and petroleum plants, mining and metal processing units, construction sites and semiconductor manufacturing.

Industrial electronics automates all types of modern day electrical and mechanical industrial processes, and is much different than consumer electronics as capacitors, motor drives, panel meters, limit switches and testers are what designers are producing. Its scope ranges from the design and maintenance of simple electrical fuses to complicated programmable logic controllers (PLCs), solid-state devices and motor drives.

The opportunity in this market for embedded non-volatile memory (eNVM) IP is huge and, on closer inspection, it is apparent that eNVM IP already plays an important role in this market. It’s in use in environmental and industrial controls, RFID, M2M, automation, drives, power distribution and instrumentation. Industrial monitoring systems, video surveillance, actuators and sensors are designed for continuous monitoring of shaft speed, bearing temperature, belt misalignment, and vibration in harsh industrial environments, all of which benefit from eNVM IP’s enormous benefits.

Embedded non-volatile memory is considered a valued component by designers of industrial electronics devices who need reliable, highly secure storage with a minimum lifetime of 10 years. It is used for code storage and programming code storage for microcontrollers, configuration data for sensors and motor control, and security keys for secure industrial networks.

Microcontrollers are an inescapable element in industrial electronics applications, just as they are in all electronics applications. In this market, they’re found in factory automation, appliances, test and measurement equipment, point-of-sale terminals and security systems. Microcontrollers have specific requirements met with eNVM IP, such as high density and fast access times for high performance. Typical embedded memory capacities for these types of applications range from one-kilobit to more than one-megabit and target all process nodes from 180nm and below.

Analog calibration, not always a consideration in other markets, must be considered for industrial electronics applications, as should analog block trimming. Power economy and energy management are other characteristics of these applications as well and can be managed with embedded NVM IP.

Industrial electronics designers are gaining even greater manufacturing flexibility, improved performance and reduced bill of material (BOM) costs by replacing external EEPROM or NOR flash with high-capacity, one-time programmable (OTP) eNVM IP.

One such eNVM IP offers security, low-active and standby power, scales to 20nm and beyond, is application-specific and qualified at multiple foundries, making it fully compatible with manufacturing rules. An extra layer of protection at the most vulnerable physical layer ensures that it can’t be hacked using passive, semi-invasive or invasive methods.

The requirements of industrial electronics applications may be different than IoT, but they both benefit from eNVM IP. It has achieved broad adoption in both markets due to measurable benefits. Its high reliability, security and low power helps designers of industrial electronics — and IoT, for that matter — differentiate and achieve success.