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More nor Flash Will Be Used in Tablets and Automotive Systems

Although NOR flash memory will be used you tablets and automotive systems, revenue will slowly line through 2016.
The worldwide NOR flash memory market will decline over the next several years, although more NOR will be designed into automotive systems, media tablets, and industrial equipment.

Worldwide NOR flash memory revenue will decline from about $4.3 billion in 2011 to $3.7 billion in 2012, according to researcher IHS. The decline will continue through 2016 when the NOR flash memory market totals $3.37 billion.

NOR flash memory is used to store small amounts of code. It is traditionally used in devices like cell phones for fast read operations and random access capabilities, according to Ryan Chien, analyst for memory and storage at IHS. However, newer implementations of NAND-based Embedded MultiMedia Card (eMMC) solutions emulate NOR capabilities and have replaced NOR in many handsets, noted Chien.

The percentage of handsets using NOR flash has fallen from 14 percent in 2010 teardowns to less than 7 percent currently. NOR manufacturers have been proactive in trying to find new wireless and embedded applications for NOR.

Among the most prominent applications for NOR are media tablets, although NOR is not used in new iPads. However, NOR is used in several android media tablets, including the Eee Slate and Transformer Prime from Asus; the Jetstream and Flyer from HTC; and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 LTE and 7.7 from Samsung, according to IHS.

NOR is also being used in automotive systems. Head units in vehicles from Ford, General Motors, Nissan and Honda each had more than 230 megabits of NOR flash, IHS reported.

The other high-potential market for NOR flash is the industrial space. Network-attached storage systems from QNAP Systems and Buffalo Technology use Micron chips, and routers from Ubee Interactive and Ruckus Wireless each include 128 megabits of NOR, according to IHS.

An emerging industrial segment for NOR is the smart grid space, where devices such as feeder protection relays require high-density NOR to help monitor substation power lines, the researcher said.