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Publication Date: 09/1/2012
Archive >  September 2012 Issue >  Special Features: SMT and Production > 

In-System Programming Works In-Line
Embedded systems typically contain a microcontroller, a flash memory chip for firmware, and a managed NAND device for data storage.

The key advantage of in-system programming is that it allows design engineers and production manufacturers to integrate semiconductor device programming and testing into a single step, eliminating the need to program a device before board placement. Flash memory is often preprogrammed in order to maintain high throughput because traditional in-system programming solutions do not have sufficient speed for typical high-density flash memories.

Micron's new Phase Change Memory (PCM) is a non-volatile memory technology that provides increased system-level reliability, byte-alterability and higher programming rates than any other flash device.
BPM microsystems' 8 panel PCB s with Micron's PCM and eMMC device for data storage.

By using BPM Microsystems' high-speed 2800ISP in-system parallel programming system, customers can apply code or firmware just in time in a production environment, while maintaining a high manufacturing beat rate.

Typical Application
Embedded systems typically contain a microcontroller as its processing core, a flash memory chip for firmware, and a managed NAND device for data storage. For this application, BPM Microsystems used a panel of eight PCBs, each containing one 8Kbit microprocessor, one Micron NP5Q128A13ESFC0E 128Mbit PCM for application firmware, and one Micron MTFC4GLVEA-0M WT 32Gbit eMMC device for data storage.

Data Gets Lost
Because of the attributes of PCM technology, any preprogrammed data to the device would be lost after reflow, therefore requiring in-system programming equipment such as in-circuit test systems, JTAG or memory interfaces. Most of the in-system programming solutions currently on the market do not have the ability to match the high programming speeds that PCM is capable of achieving, and therefore create a manufacturing bottleneck.

Fast Inline Programming
The BPM Microsystems semi-automated 2800ISP in-system parallel programming solution has the proven ability to program flash memory devices at the highest reachable speeds using its proprietary Vector Engine Co-Processor® with BitBlast technology. The Vector Engine Co-Processor accelerates waveforms during the programming cycle. The faster speeds are achieved through synchronous operations that eliminate the dead times so the device under test no longer waits for the programmer. The result is programming near the theoretical limits of the silicon design; the faster the device, the faster the device is programmed.

With Vector Engine technology, high-density flash memory devices are able to achieve read/write speeds up to 140Mbits per second. By programming in both serial and parallel mode, the 2800ISP solution is significantly faster than traditional serial in-system programming solutions.
Signal integrity and speed waveforms.

Using the 2800ISP, Micron's serial PCM was programmed in 24.29 seconds or at a rate of 5.27Mbits per second. It was verified in 3.33 seconds or at a rate of 38.44Mbits per second. The signal integrity and speed is demonstrated by the waveforms captured during the in-system programming process.

Impressive Output
With these high-speed program and verify times, over half a million boards can be programmed per year with a single 2800ISP. This solves the bottleneck typically seen with traditional test equipment, making the 2800ISP an efficient in-system programming solution for PCM devices.

"At Micron, we have a profound interest in new, innovative products that have the potential to make a real impact for our customers," said Jeff Bader, vice president of marketing for Micron's embedded solutions group. "With high-speed, in-system programming support on BPM Microsystems' new 2800ISP, customers can program high-density firmware and data after the nonvolatile device has been placed on the PCB."

"Our customers who are implementing solutions using Micron NOR, NAND, eMMC or PCM memories see the benefit of having the capability and flexibility that in-system programming tools offer. We are pleased to see that an industry leader like BPM Microsystems can provide a high-quality programming tool and valuable support to our customers."

Contact: Micron Technology, Inc., 8000 S. Federal Way, Boise, ID 83707 208-368-4000; Web site: or BPM Microsystems, 5373 West Sam Houston Pkwy N, Suite 250, Houston, TX 77041-5160 800-225-2102 or 713-688-4600 fax: 713-688-0920 E-mail: Web:

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