ONFi Working Group Announces Block Abstracted Addendum Specification

The Open NAND flash Interface (ONFi) Working Group, the organization dedicated to simplifying integration of NAND flash memory into consumer electronic (CE) devices, computing platforms and industrial systems, announced the Block Abstracted addendum specification. This new specification will help simplify the design of host controllers.

Most of the NAND flash memory products in the market today feature physical-address access that defines each physical memory array to the block and to the page–down to the byte of data. The driver in the host controller must recognize this complicated addressing. Any change in device architecture requires modifications to the driver in the host controller, making system upgrades extremely difficult and expensive. Block Abstracted (BA) simplifies host controller design by allowing the host to treat the flash as a pool of addressable blocks of data, without having to manage those blocks individually.

“Industry-standard Block Abstracted NAND flash components offered by multiple sources can significantly reduce time-to-market for new products, while lowering cost of development,” said Bob Leibowitz, ONFi Marketing Chair and NAND Architecture Strategist at Micron. “Our standardization efforts will benefit OEMs while creating new business opportunities for suppliers.”

New flash components based on ONFi’s BA NAND flash specification can incorporate traditional NAND-specific functions such as error-correcting code (ECC), wear-leveling, and bad block management in the internal memory controller, freeing the host of these tasks. Designing systems with BA NAND flash requires no redesign of the host controller when upgrading to different memory densities or changing component suppliers.

BA NAND leverages the existing raw NAND footprint, creating an easy migration path for OEMs using raw NAND today. BA NAND follows ONFi’s method of self-discovery to allow the same host controller to have the flexibility to use both raw and BA NAND. More in-depth coverage of ONFi’s Block Abstracted NAND Flash specification and its benefits are highlighted in a webcast.

The specification is now publicly available on the ONFi Web site.

ONFi Roadmap
After founding the group in 2006, the ONFi Working Group introduced the 1.0 specification in January 2007. The second generation ONFi specification is currently under development and will feature high-speed performance in addition to Block Abstracted capabilities.

About ONFi
The ONFi Working Group is dedicated to simplifying integration of NAND flash memory into consumer electronics (CE) applications and computing platforms. Before the advancements made by the working group, use of NAND flash in these end-use applications was hampered by the lack of sufficient standardization. To support a new NAND flash component on a platform, host software and hardware changes were often required. Implementing these changes was extremely costly due to the new testing cycle required, which led to slower rates of adoption for new NAND flash components. ONFi aims to remedy that problem and speed time to market for NAND flash based applications. The ONFi Working Group formed in May 2006 and currently has more than 60 member companies. ONFi’s founding companies include Hynix Semiconductor, Intel Corporation, Micron Technology, Phison Electronics Corporation, Sony Corporation and STMicroelectronics.