Home Tech Terms What is eMMC: Everything You Need to Know

What is eMMC: Everything You Need to Know

What is eMMC

Nowadays, electronic devices are developing rapidly, and storage is becoming essential as it plays an important role in shaping their functionality and efficiency.

For storage solutions, HDD was provided in the device for a long time, but now SSD has been replaced because its performance is much better than HDD and is more secure.

While SSD has replaced HDD, it is not for those devices that are small, light, and thin. To overcome this problem, eMMC storage is used, which does not come with much storage but is integrated into the circuit of the device, which does not require any separate physical space. It provides a compact and efficient solution to storage requirements.

What is eMMC?

The full form of eMMC is an Embedded Multimedia Card. It is non-volatile flash storage that integrates with the device. The MMC interface facilitates communication between the eMMC storage and the device’s processor.

It combines NAND flash memory, a controller, and a multimedia card (MMC) interface into a unified package, allowing it to be used in space-limited devices such as smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, and other embedded systems.

Importance of eMMC in modern electronic devices

Compact

eMMC NAND flash memory integrates the controller and interface into a single package and occupies minimal space. That is why it is used in thin and portable devices like smartphones, tablets, and ultra-thin laptops because these devices do not have much physical space.

Budget-Friendly

Devices with eMMC storage are more budget-friendly than devices with SSD storage. eMMC storage is installed in devices that do not have a high budget.

Power Savings

eMMC consumes very little battery as its architecture is designed for energy efficiency, resulting in longer battery life for devices that run on direct battery, such as smartphones and tablets.

Reliability and Durability

eMMC has features like wear leveling and error correction that make the storage even more reliable and durable. It is very beneficial for factories and cars as it does not break easily and works well.

User Experience

It has fast read and write speeds but not as much as SSD, but it still provides satisfactory performance in everyday tasks as the device runs smoothly and has a fast response.

Understanding eMMC

Origin of eMMC

Flash memory means that it retains its data even when there is a power failure. This is unlike the RAM because it also loses its data when there is a power failure, which is commonly used in mobiles, tablets, thin electronic devices, and other embedded systems. eMMC is good for all this because it is small, which makes it easy to fit into these small devices, and it is also fast and cheaper than other storage.

eMMC was first developed by JEDEC and the MultimediaCard Association in 2006.

Evolution from traditional storage

Performance

People were using the hard disk drive (HDD) as traditional storage; it had good capacity and a budget-friendly price, but it was slow, heavy, and took up a lot of space. Now, SSD has replaced the HDD; it’s a bit expensive but offers much faster performance and is more compact.

Manufacturers use eMMC as embedded storage. eMMC, a non-volatile memory based on NAND flash memory, is faster and more durable than traditional flash memory. This has led to the increased use of eMMC in recent years, especially for HD video playback and gaming.

Capacity

The capacity of traditional storage devices has increased significantly. HDDs come with up to 10 TB of storage, while SSDs come with up to 8 TB of storage. The capacity of eMMC devices has also continued to increase. Earlier its capacity was only a few GB, but now it comes with a capacity of up to 256 GB.

Features

Traditional storage devices have limited features. HDDs and SSDs only have basic data storage and retrieval capabilities.

eMMC devices offer a variety of features compared to traditional storage devices. Apart from basic data storage and retrieval, it also comes with secure boot, encryption, and wear leveling, making it considered to be a more versatile and secure storage mind.

Key components and structure

1. NAND flash memory

NAND flash memory is the storage medium of eMMC, which is non-volatile memory. This means it retains data even when there is a power failure, whereas volatile memory does not.

2. Controller

The controller is the chip of eMMC, which acts as the brain of eMMC. It manages the data flow between the NAND flash memory and the device’s processor. It handles tasks like reading, writing, error correction, and wear leveling.

3. MMC interface

The MMC interface is a communication link that connects the memory card to the host device via a serial interface that is a low-pin-count, high-speed interface, which facilitates data transfer between storage and device.

4. Integrated Package

Traditional storage consists of separate components, whereas eMMC integrates the NAND flash memory, controller, and MMC interface into a single compact package. Due to this, it is useful for those devices which have less physical space.

eMMC vs other storage

eMMC vs SSDs

SSD vs eMMC
FeatureseMMC(Embedded Multimedia Card)SSDs(Solid State Drive)
Form factorCompactMore Spacious
Power consumptionMore EfficientRequires More Power
CostEconomicalCostlier
PerformanceRelatively SlowerComparatively Faster
CapacityLessMore

Performance

eMMC is slightly slower than SSD, which makes it suitable for everyday tasks but not as good for heavy applications and tasks.

SSD is faster than eMMC and provides faster read and write speeds. Because the NAND flash memory of SSDs accesses data much faster than the NAND flash memory of Embedded Multimedia Card.

Storage Capacity

Embedded Multimedia Cards are on the rise nowadays but still do not provide as much storage as SSDs. eMMC devices only offer up to 256GB of storage. Therefore, it is used in devices with low storage requirements.

SSDs come with a lot of storage these days, with some models even supporting up to 8TB of storage. That’s why it’s used in everything from small-sized to high-performance desktops or data centers.

Cost

eMMC storage is budget-friendly and is therefore used in entry-level and mid-range devices.

SSDs are more expensive than eMMC as they come with higher capacity and are used in premium devices.

Form Factor

The eMMC is integrated directly into the device’s circuitry, which occupies less space. That is why it is mainly used in thin, portable devices with limited space, like mobiles and tablets.

The SSD is used as a separate removable drive. These come in different sizes. Some come in small and large sizes. These come in standard 2.5-inch and M.2 for ultrabooks.

Power consumption

eMMC consumes less power than SSD because it handles light computing tasks that do not require much power. That is why it is suitable for equipment for which cost and power efficiency are important.

SSDs consume more power than eMMCs. SSDs use more complex circuitry to achieve higher performance.

Also Read: Best SSD Laptops

eMMC vs HDDs

eMMC vs HDDs
AspecteMMC(Embedded Multimedia Card)HDD(Hard Disk Drive)
Storage TypeIntegrated flashMagnetic disk
Form FactorCompactBulky
DimensionsPetiteSpacious
WeightLighterHeavier
Read speedFasterSlower
Write SpeedFasterSlower
DurabilityMore durableLess durable
ReliabilitySolid-state, no moving partsMechanical parts may fail
Power ConsumptionLowerHigher
Noise LevelSilentAudible mechanical noise
CostMore expensive per GBLess expensive per GB

How eMMC Works

1. Writing data to eMMC

Initialization

When an electronic device is turned on or when the storage is initialized, the embedded system firmware or bootloader is activated as part of the device boot-up process.

The device’s SoC or CPU communicates with the eMMC through the storage interface to indicate that both the device and the storage are ready to exchange data.

The device’s firmware or operating system then configures the eMMC by setting various operating modes and parameters. Embedded Multimedia Card storage consists of a memory map that defines how data is organized and stored.

During initialization, the device’s firmware ensures that this memory map is configured correctly, allowing the operating system to interact with the storage effectively. Once the initialization process is complete, the eMMC enters the ready state.

File System Interaction

During File System Interaction, the operating system and the file system manage how data is organized and stored. The operating system interacts with the eMMC through a storage driver to write data.

Controller Handling

The controller of the eMMC manages the process after receiving the data to be written. After identifying the block in which the data is written, it writes new data in the flash memory cells.

Wear Leveling

Wear leveling distributes data evenly across memory cells during write and erase cycles.

Error Checking and Correction

Before data is written, error checking and correction mechanisms check that the data is correct. If there are any errors in the data, the controller corrects them before writing the data to the flash memory.

2. Reading data from eMMC

Data Request

When the device needs to access its stored data, it sends a request to the eMMC.

Controller Handling

When data is requested from the flash memory cells, the eMMC controller retrieves the requested data from the flash memory cells and sends it to the device’s processor.

Transfer to Device

Once correctly checked, the data is transferred to the device’s processor for use by the operating system or application.

Applications of eMMC

Smartphones and tablets

Embedded Multimedia Card is used in smartphones and tablets; it is its standard storage. Such devices have very little physical space. Hence, eMMC is used in it due to its compact form factor.

Laptops and Ultrabooks

Light, thin laptops and ultrabooks have very little physical space and require energy efficiency, so they use eMMC for storage, which consumes very little power and is integrated into the device’s motherboard.

Also Read: Best Cheap Laptops

Digital cameras

eMMCs are used to store photos and videos in digital cameras and webcams that are much smaller due to their compact form factor. The small size of Embedded Multimedia Cards is an advantage in compact camera designs.

Smart TVs and Set-Top Boxes

eMMC is used in smart TVs and set-top boxes to store apps, firmware, and other data that runs the entertainment devices smoothly.

Automotive Infotainment Systems

Automotive infotainment systems are subject to a lot of shock and vibration and are not stable. eMMC is used to store maps, multimedia content, and other data due to its resistance to shock and vibration.

Industrial and Automation Equipment

Industrial systems require embedded storage as it is automated, controlled, and not static. Hence, eMMC is integrated into it so that it can easily withstand shocks and vibrations.

Medical Devices

Embedded Multimedia Card is used in medical devices such as diagnostic devices and patient monitoring systems because these areas do not require much storage, and eMMC provides reliable storage for critical data.

Networking Devices

eMMC is often used in networking equipment such as routers, switches, and network-attached storage (NAS) systems to store firmware, configuration settings, and logs.

Home Appliances

eMMCs are used in home appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, and ovens as smart home appliances store software, user preferences, and operational data.

Wearable Devices

eMMC is used in wearable devices like smartwatches, fitness trackers, and health monitors because these devices are very small. Hence, eMMC is used in these devices due to their compact form factor.

Advantages of eMMC

Cost-effectiveness

The eMMC is integrated into the device’s circuit, so there is no need to make it separately. Its integrated design provides a balance between performance and cost.

Compact Size

eMMC’s compact design makes it suitable for space-constrained devices such as smartphones, tablets, ultrabooks, and thin and light devices.

Energy efficiency

eMMC consumes less power, which is why it is used in portable devices like smartphones and tablets, where battery life is more important than performance.

Reliability

eMMC has no separate parts, making it more robust and resistant to mechanical failures than traditional hard disk drives (HDDs). That is why devices using eMMC have higher reliability.

Versatility

Due to its versatility, eMMC finds application in various devices such as smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, industrial control systems, and more. Its adaptability to various applications makes it widely used in most devices.

Disadvantages of eMMC

Limited Performance

Its performance is very slow in intensive data processing. Compared to SSDs, it has limited read and write speeds, which affects the overall performance of the devices.

Limited Storage Capacity

The maximum storage capacity of eMMC is 256 GB, which is much less than other storage options like traditional HDD or larger SSD, as some devices nowadays support SSD storage up to 8TB. This is not good for devices that require large amounts of data storage.

Fixed Configuration

In eMMC devices, the memory and controller are integrated into a single package. Due to this, it cannot be increased later. This lack of modularity limits the flexibility to customize storage solutions based on specific needs.

Limited Lifespan

Wear-leveling algorithms help evenly distribute write and erase cycles despite eMMC having a limited number of program/erase (P/E) cycles compared to more advanced NAND flash solutions, resulting in higher write Scenarios that may affect the lifetime of storage.

Data Recovery Challenges

Data recovery from eMMC can be challenging if data corruption or failure occurs. This is because eMMC is integrated into the circuit.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Cost-effectivenessLimited Performance
Compact SizeLimited Storage Capacity
Energy EfficiencyFixed Configuration
ReliabilityLimited Lifespan
VersatilityData Recovery Challenges

Final Word

Its unique features, wear leveling, error correction, and secure boot set it apart from other storage solutions in terms of versatility and reliability.

The eMMC’s compact design is great for small, thin, and light laptops. Its performance and storage capacity may not be as high as that of an SSD, but it is good for a device that is short on physical space and where battery life is more important than performance.

It is great for thin laptops, mobile phones, and tablets as it is energy efficient, resulting in good battery life for all these devices. Apart from this, it is budget-friendly.

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