CEC Theses and Dissertations

Title

A New Method to Update Flash Memory: In-System Programming Algorithms for the Personal Communicator

Date of Award

1998

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Junping Sun

Committee Member

Michael J. Laszlo

Committee Member

Shengdon Chen

Abstract

This dissertation presents automatic, foolproof, in-system programming algorithms to update computer programs, such as: Disk Operating System (DOS), Basic Input Output System (BIOS), and other related applications. This method is applied to reconfigure the programmable functions stored in the flash memory of the Simon Personal Communicator. The rapid advance in the computer programming technology of data processing and communications functions demand the frequent revision of computer programs such as DOS, BIOS, and other related applications. The Simon Personal Communicator, referred to as "Simon," is a high-function system that constantly needs revisions of its computer programs.

Many techniques have been developed to update these computer programs into hardware memory chips, such as Flash Electrically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory (flash EEPROM memory). However, these techniques require accurate, painstaking steps to erase specific portions of the memory and to substitute the new programs in the Simon Personal Communicator. The difficulty of upgrading computer programs in the Simon Personal Communicator makes it an unsuitable task for the typical user.

Therefore, the Field Programming Method (U. S. Patent) has been developed for the Simon Personal Communicator with a more efficient, accurate, and convenient procedure to update its flash memory. These newly revised techniques use the in-system programming technique to develop a complete, accurate, one-step method to update computer programs that are stored in the Simon. The method includes uniquely designed hardware, specifically tailored algorithms, and a sequencing control program. To implement in-system programming, an optionally attached connector (U.S. Patent) is used to initialize Simon and to start the process of updating the programs. In addition, a reprogramming card (PCMCIA - trademark of Personal Computer Memory Card International Association) contains pre stored, new programs that can be loaded into the flash memories of the Simon Personal Communicator.

In addition, Simon's BIOS flash memory erase/program algorithms as well as Simon application flash memory block erase/program algorithms have been developed and tested. Both the Simon development laboratory and the Simon manufacturer have used these algorithms. With the concept of in-system programming, no external power supply, in-circuit emulation machine (ICE) nor serial link is required to update Simon's computer programs. This Field Programming Method enables the Simon Personal Communicator to be easily and accurately upgraded in a portable fashion. This efficient and revolutionary technique can be applied to other similar portable computer or communication devices-reducing support costs and increasing productivity. Benefits of 100% reliability, accuracy, and serviceability guarantee the Field Programming Method and its concept of in-system programming will be notable in the future.

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