Philips EEPROM Makes Breakthrough with Density and Power Consumption

1/26/2004 - Royal Philips Electronics (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHI) announced a new low-voltage low-power EEPROM option for its 0.18 µm CMOS18 process technology, targeting industry demand for higher storage capacity and greater flexibility in smart card applications, as well as applications in consumer, communications and automotive markets.

With the introduction of proposed new security measures such as the inclusion of biometric data on smart cards, plus the trend towards greater card functionality, the amount of information that must be stored on them continues to increase. At the same time, power consumption must be kept under control, particularly in contactless smart card applications where the only power available to the card is the electrical energy it can pick up from a local RF (Radio Frequency) field. Philips’ new byte-alterable EEPROM technology provides both the high density and low power consumption needed to fulfill these requirements, while at the same time being fully compatible with the company’s existing embedded Flash memory technology to allow mixed Flash/EEPROM systems.

Featuring a memory cell that is up to four times smaller than conventional EEPROM, this new embedded memory technology from Philips provides up to 2 Mbits (256 Kbytes) of EEPROM in silicon areas compatible with the cost constraints of smart card applications. Another important consideration for its longevity and cost-effectiveness is the fact that Philips has already succeeded in shrinking its non-volatile memory technology from 0.18 µm to 0.15 µm, with early indications that it will also migrate to 0.13 µm and future processes below 100 nm. The ability of this new EEPROM technology to migrate to new CMOS process generations will ensure that customer IP invested in early designs can be re-used in the future, giving them a cost-effective way to move to applications that require greater memory capacity and functionality.

“With embedded ROM, EEPROM and Flash memory available in the same low-cost CMOS process for all our 8-, 16- and 32-bit product families, we can implement a wide range of non-volatile memory configurations for advanced smart card applications, especially in banking, e-government and mobile markets,” said Bettina Kuhrt, marketing manager for Mobile Communications Products, Security Solutions at Philips Semiconductors. “Irrespective of whether customers are looking for fast prototyping, production-line programming or the ability to download Java applets onto a card, we can now provide the optimum mix of non-volatile memory at voltage and power levels that suit high performance applications as well as contactless smart-card solutions.”

Philips’ new EEPROM process uses a similar memory cell design to the company’s proven 2-transistor NOR-cell Flash memory technology, which uses Fowler-Nordheim electron tunneling for both programming and erasure to achieve low power consumption. The main differences are increased gate area on the memory transistor to increase charge injection, closer control of the erase distribution and read threshold voltages, and a small increase in programming voltage. Together, these design changes have enabled Philips to achieve a breakthrough in byte-erase time for Fowler-Nordheim tunneling devices of less than 1 ms. Compared to conventional 0.18 µm EEPROM technology which today achieves a typical cell size of 5 µm2, the cell size of Philips’ new embedded EEPROM cell is only 1.2 µm2 – four times smaller than the conventional EEPROM technology used in the industry.

“None of the techniques used in our new Flash/EEPROM memory option compromise the performance of our current CMOS18 baseline process, making this a true embedded memory technology that is highly reliable in the field,” said Frans List, strategic program manager for Embedded Memory at Philips Semiconductors. “In smart card applications, where cards are often subjected to harsh electrical conditions and where the cost and inconvenience of card-replacement is high, reliability is an important factor.”

Philips’ new CMOS18 EEPROM memory option is available for design in now and is supported by all the company’s CMOS18 design tools, including the provision of memory test facilities through a standard JTAG interface.

About Royal Philips Electronics
Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands is one of the world's biggest electronics companies and Europe's largest, with sales of EUR 31.8 billion in 2002. It is a global leader in color television sets, lighting, electric shavers, medical diagnostic imaging and patient monitoring, and one-chip TV products. Its 166,500 employees in more than 60 countries are active in the areas of lighting, consumer electronics, domestic appliances, semiconductors, and medical systems. Philips is quoted on the NYSE (symbol: PHG), Frankfurt, Amsterdam and other stock exchanges. News from Philips is located at

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