computer hardware, consumer electronics, electronic components  

Non-volatile random access memory (NVRAM)

Non-volatile memory devices are electrically programmable and erasable to store charge in a location within the device and to retain that charge when power to the device is shut off. The nonvolatile memory is typically a semiconductor memory comprising thousands of individual transistors configured on a substrate to form a matrix of rows and columns of memory cells. An array of non-volatile devices that allows individual locations to be read with random access is called a non-volatile random access memory (NVRAM). In NVRAM cells, the cell's conductive state is determined by the charge state of the cell's floating gate. The floating gate is an electrically isolated gate of a field effect transistor (FET) stacked in a two device NAND-like structure. Charge is forced onto or removed from the floating gate through a thin insulator layer that, normally (during a read operation), isolates the gate electrically from other adjoining conductive layers. NVRAM devices, such as flash memory, EPROM, EEPROM, store charge using a floating gate or a floating plate. Charge trapping centers and associated potential wells are created by forming nano-particles of metals or semiconductors in a large band gap insulating matrix. The floating plate or gate can be formed as an integral part of the gate insulator stack of the switching transistor. Nonvolatile memories are used in digital computing devices for the storage of data. NVRAM arrays are commonly found in smart cards. In the smart card application they are typically used as a permanent memory to store specific transaction data which is necessary for using the smart card. Each cell of the NVRAM may be of the type which comprises a stacked gate cell formed from a floating gate structure located under a control gate, with a source and drain diffusion region on either side of the gate structures.

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