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Case Study

In-System Programming of Micron’s Phase Change Memory with BPM Microsystems’ 2800ISP

by | Aug 23, 2012 | Case Study


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 as traditional in-system programming solutions do not have sufficient speed for typical high-density flash memories. But using BPM Microsystems high-speed 2800ISP in-system programmer to program Micron’s new, revolutionary Phase Change Memory (PCM), a non-volatile memory technology that features increased system-level reliability, byte-alterability and higher programming rates than any other flash device, customers can apply code or firmware just in time in a production environment without slowing the 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 Texas Instruments MSP430F2001IPW 8Kbit microprocessor, one Micron NP5Q128A13ESFC0E 128Mbit PCM for application firmware, and one Micron MTFC4GLVEA-0M WT 32Gbit eMMC device for data storage.


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 these in-system programming solutions currently on the market do not have the ability to match the high programming speeds PCM is capable of achieving, thus creating a manufacturing bottleneck.


BPM Microsystems’ semi-automated 2800ISP in-system 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. This is significantly faster than traditional in-system programming solutions.


Using BPM Microsystems’ 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. With these high-speed programs and verify times, over half a million boards can be programmed per year with a single fixture across three production shifts. (see Table below). This solves the bottleneck typically seen with traditional test equipment, making the 2800ISP an efficient in-system programming solution for PCM devices.

Device Manufacturer Device Type Program Rate Verify Rate Example File Size Program+Verify Time
Micron PCM 5.27Mbits/s 38.44Mbits/s 128Mbits 27.62s
Micron eMMC 103.69Mbits/s 229Mbits/s 16Gbits 229.54s

“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.”

This paper was originally delivered at the Flash Memory Summit

About Micron Technology, Inc.

Since its establishment in 1978, Micron Technology, Inc. has become a world leader in semiconductor manufacturing. Its foundation is in providing DRAM, NAND, and NOR flash memory technology along with developing other innovative semiconductor solutions.

Micron Technology, Inc.
8000 S. Federal Way
Boise, ID 83707

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