Sep 03, 2014

How does a memory reformat improve performance of flash memory?

NASA is reformatting the memory of the Mars rover Opportunity in a bid to improve stability and performance. How does a reformat accomplish this with flash memory? I thought that with flash memory you weren’t supposed to defrag it because it would shorten operational life. Isn’t a reformat doing essentially the same thing?


Memory Reformat Planned for Opportunity Mars Rover

"Flash memory retains data even when power is off. It is the type used for storing photos and songs on smart phones or digital cameras, among many other uses. Individual cells within a flash memory sector can wear out from repeated use. Reformatting clears the memory while identifying bad cells and flagging them to be avoided.

"Worn-out cells in the flash memory are the leading suspect in causing these resets," said John Callas of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboatory, Pasadena, California, project manager for NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Project. "The flash reformatting is a low-risk process, as critical sequences and flight software are stored elsewhere in other non-volatile memory on the rover.""
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