Milestone-Proposal:The Floating Gate EEPROM, 1976-1978
This Proposal has been approved, and is now a Milestone Nomination
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Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old?
Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s fields of interest? (e.g. “the theory and practice of electrical, electronics, communications and computer engineering, as well as computer science, the allied branches of engineering and the related arts and sciences” – from the IEEE Constitution)
Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity?
Was it of at least regional importance?
Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)?
Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony?
Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated?
Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an Electrical Engineering Milestone? Yes
Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:
Title of the proposed milestone:
Creating the Foundation of the Data Storage Flash Memory Industry
Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:
In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?
Santa Clara Valley
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:
IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):
Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.
Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the intended milestone plaque site(s):
SanDisk Headquarters, Milpitas, CA, Visitors’ Lobby in Bldg. 6
Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.
Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need.
SanDisk Headquarters, 601 McCarthy Blvd., Milpitas, CA 95035 (37.417158,-121.920927). This is Bldg. 6, which includes the main Visitors' Lobby.
Are the original buildings extant?
Details of the plaque mounting:
How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?
The Visitors' Lobby has direct public access, and the building is locked during non-business hours.
Who is the present owner of the site(s)?
A letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property:
A letter or email from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application:
What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)?
“System Flash,” a flash memory chip architecture that is coupled to a dedicated controller and firmware in order to manage the memory cells so as to emulate a magnetic disk, was pioneered by Eli Harari and SanDisk. This architecture's evolution from NOR to multistate NAND flash enabled a new class of reliable, rugged and low-power portable computing devices that has displaced photographic film, and which is rapidly displacing optical and magnetic media. Data storage in flash memory is a critical enabler of digital photography, smart phones and mobile computing, and it will continue to enable new market segments. Ubiquitous access to personal data has become a reality.
What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?
“System Flash” overcame the unreliable nature of NAND flash memory with a technique that created a long-term non-volatile medium that could be reliably rewritten, and which included the ability to remap and replace defective and “worn out” cells with substitute cells. The use of NAND was significant due to its lower cost, scalability, and ability to support massive parallelisms in write and erase operations as compared with NOR. Cost reductions were accelerated through the successful commercialization of 2 bits-per-cell (X2) and 3 bits-per-cell (X3) technology. The ability of “System Flash” to emulate the random access sectors of a disk drive allowed it to be a direct replacement for disk drive data storage. Its compact size and low-power filled a niche that could not be filled by disk drives, and the compounding effect of Moore’s Law is ever-expanding the size of that niche.
What features set this work apart from similar achievements?
EPROM, EEPROM and NOR flash were important technologies that filled the need for a non-volatile storage medium. NAND Flash provided a denser and more scalable medium than NOR. NAND was initially considered a niche product since its serial access was considered inferior to NOR’s random access. However, this serial characteristic gave NAND a block storage feature like that of a disk drive. NAND’s unreliable characteristics, particularly over time, were able to be overcome by “System Flash.”
References to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or citations to pages in scholarly books. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article.
Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.