USB Flash drives have been around almost as long as the USB port itself, offering a quick and easy way to access and move data between PC's since the year 2000. Often referred to as a USB flash drive, USB stick, thumb drive, memory stick and many more. Unlike SD cards not association was initially formed to control the technology and specifications, although now many specifications fall under the general USB organisation.

This means that there can be a huge difference between two apparently very similar devices.

Inside a USB Drive

Each device contains various components, all of which contribute to performance, reliability and lifespan. Choosing the right manufacturer for the USB drive and therefore the components is key to making sure you have the right USB drive. The two most important components to consider are the the USB mass storage controller and the NAND flash chip. Here at Cardwave we can discuss and recommend the best components and therefore the best USB device for you needs. The USB controller is usually a small square chip as shown below.

USB Controller

The USB mass storage controller, also know as simply the USB controller, is the brains of the device. Its actually a very small microprocessor (e.g. your Intel CPU in your PC), there are many manufacturers of these with different model numbers and even different software on each. Some controllers allow special functions, like making the device read-only or been seen as a CD-Rom or even Floppy Disk Drive!

NAND Flash

This is where the actual data is stored, NAND allows is a simple logic where 1's and 0's can be stored (Also know as binary data). There are again various manufacturers and models of chips used. Ensuring you are using the correct NAND flash for the appropriate application is vital, USB flash drives are so easy to assemble that its is very common to find USB flash drives constructed from low grade or even reject NAND flash chips. The Flash Nand usually looks like a rectangular shaped chip as shown below.