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USB Flash Drives: Components, Uses, and Myths Dispelled

The USB flash drive—also known as a jump drive, data stick, or thumb drive—continues to be the most popular portable storage device, with sales estimated to exceed 500 million annually by 2020. Although cloud storage is making headway in the same market spaces, USB drives offer capacity, speed, and size that make them ideal for many uses beyond just storage, including some perhaps unexpected uses as well. This article explores what’s inside a USB flash drive, explores various uses, and dispels common myths.

Tired of losing your precious pen drives? Tired of spending hours searching for them, only to find them tucked away in some dingy corner? Or tired of having to finally give up and go run to the nearest store for another one? It seems like product designers Claire Pondard and Léa Pereyre have gone through the same dilemma innumerable times because they’ve decided to answer all our USB-related prayers! Their key-shaped intriguing product ‘Saint Antoine’ goes beyond any ordinary USB key. Deemed as common everyday products, due to their nimble size and consistent usage, pen drives are easily misplaced. However, Saint Antoine has been equipped with a crisp UDP chip. Now, what’s so special about this chip? After thorough calculations and necessary trial runs, the chip was customized to fit perfectly between the keys of a laptop/computer keyboard, ensuring it will be tightly fixed to it at all times. The grooved edges and branch-like structure of the pen drive allow it to sneakily merge into the crevices of the keyboard, without destroying the screen once the laptop is shut.

The SD Association is made up of application developers and micro SD and component manufacturers. The organization determines microSD technology specifications and sets standards and roadmaps for the industry. SD Association President Brian Kumagai explained some of the new features and recent technology trends that help ensure microSD cards remain relevant and offer viable storage for many products and markets in the future.

Capacity: It’s all in the flash memory technology

The fundamental technology in all SD cards and any type of solid-state storage device today is NAND flash memory. Current NAND flash memory chips use floating-gate processes that all manufacturers support. Over the years, decreasing the horizontal line width of the lithography technology used in NAND memory production has created higher density storage capacities. The industry roadmap shrank design-rule dimensions for memory features from 110 nm down to the current size of 19 nm, making smaller NAND chips and allowing microSD cards to use more of them to hold more data. At these thin-line widths, there are only a few electrons of charge inside a single level cell. NAND chips using 16 nm line widths will be coming soon, but Kumagai says the industry is starting to see the limitations of scaling to smaller lithography.

Like a hard drive, an SSD is used to store large volumes of data whether the system is on or off, for extended periods of time. But unlike hard drives, an SSD has no moving parts, and is more akin to a flash drive.

Pen USB flash drive, on the other hand, were bulkier than flash drives and had more length to it. Due to their elongated size, they were given the name Pen Drives. They also ran on flash memory and had a USB interface to communicate with the computer.

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