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NOR Flash Opens Up New Avenues for Automotive Applications?


Contrary to popular belief, NOR Flash has found its new position in the latest round of industrial upgrades. The demand for NOR Flash is rapidly increasing in consumer electronics, Internet of Things (IoT), industrial, mobile phone displays, automotive, and other applications. The automotive industry, currently undergoing electrification, exhibits a particularly significant demand for NOR Flash. Upgrades such as traditional dashboards transitioning to touch screens, as well as the introduction of connected cars and autonomous driving, have generated a multitude of high-speed data interaction applications, making NOR Flash an essential component once again in automotive systems.

NOR Flash Finds a New Path

NOR Flash has gained immense popularity in recent years. According to IC Insights, a semiconductor market research firm, NOR Flash sales surged by 63% to $2.9 billion in 2021, with a 33% increase in shipments and a 23% rise in average selling prices. Despite noticeable price fluctuations in 2022, the market performance of automotive NOR Flash remains impressive.

The typical characteristics of NOR Flash include fast read speeds, high stability, and the ability to retain data even during power outages. Moreover, the execute-in-place (XIP) feature allows code to be directly executed from the NOR Flash chip. Additionally, NOR Flash offers a unique cost-performance advantage within the storage range of 1Mb to 256Mb due to its programmability.

The automotive industry is currently undergoing a transformation, and OEM manufacturers have an increased demand for highly reliable and fast-executing memory. NOR Flash's characteristics enable it to store and monitor information, contributing to the expansion of safety application functions in automotive systems and making it more appealing to the automotive industry. It is evident that NOR Flash is extensively utilized in automotive displays, safety, vision, and control systems to permanently store program code, data, and images for use during the vehicle startup process.

NOR Flash is primarily applied in several areas within automotive systems, including instrument clusters, central control multimedia screens, ADAS, and peripheral cameras. Due to its high usage volume, the market for NOR Flash in automotive applications is experiencing rapid growth.

Instant-on capability is a primary reason for using NOR Flash in automotive dashboards. Compared to NAND Flash, NOR Flash offers advantages such as long-term data retention, heat resistance, fast startup code execution, and low capacity.

The entire ADAS system has a greater demand for NOR Flash. The increasing complexity of ADAS functions is driving the proliferation of intelligent sensors such as front cameras, imaging radar, and even lidar, requiring a large quantity of high-density NOR Flash. Particularly in the era of autonomous driving, each camera and radar sensor requires a storage chip to record and process the road information perceived by the sensors. This data is rapidly analyzed and computed using proprietary algorithms to perform emergency maneuvers, braking, and other operations, which can only be accomplished with NOR Flash. It is reported that the strong growth of the automotive ADAS market, with an average annual growth rate of 22%, will drive the robust growth of NOR Flash.

In 2020, the NOR Flash market size in the automotive ADAS sector was $140 million, and approximately $220 million in the instrument cluster market. With the trend towards automotive intelligence, it is projected that by 2025, NOR Flash will increase to $300 million and $620 million in the automotive ADAS and instrument cluster markets, respectively, indicating a highly promising market outlook.

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