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What is an EEPROM Reader?

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  • Written By: Ray Hawk
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2016
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An EEPROM reader is an analytical tool utilized to read the programming code on computer chips. Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory (EEPROM) chips are a form of non-volatile memory storage, holding their data and instructions even when the power is turned off. This makes them essential devices for basic configuration information in a wide variety of computer hardware, from desktop computers to gaming systems, hand held electronic devices to automotive computer systems. Due to the widespread use of EEPROMs, the EEPROM reader has become an essential tool. They can vary greatly in their complexity, depending on what circuit design they are to be used for, and they often also function as EEPROM programmers as well.

Since an EEPROM chip is an advance over previous EPROM chip designs, they do not have to be removed from the circuit in order to read or reprogram the data stored on them. Many do-it-yourself circuit designs for building a EEPROM reader exist on the Internet, or commercial readers are available and vary widely in price range. Due to their versatility, its important to obtain an EEPROM reader that is specifically designed for the type of chip being accessed.

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Commercially available EEPROM reader devices utilize universal serial bus (USB) ports to access the chip, but serial and parallel port readers are not unheard of. Homemade EEPROM readers are usually designed to be plugged directly into the circuit board itself and generally have eight pins, but some can have up to 48 pin designs. Another reason that an EEPROM reader can very greatly in price and design is that EEPROM chips have been designed from the beginning to be user-modifiable, encouraging tinkering by those who work in circuit design every day.

Originally, an EEPROM chip was quite basic in terms of how much read-only memory (ROM) it could store. This made EEPROM readers simple to construct and modify. These chips have since become very widespread, being used in many automated processes where manufacturing procedures must be continually reset. The memory capacity of EEPROM chips can now rival that of standard flash memory, or static read-only memory (SRAM), but must have a continuous power supply.

Electrical and software engineering industries today make widespread use of the EEPROM reader and EEPROM programmer. They are a versatile range of hand held, built-in and plug-in hardware devices designed to access instruction sets on EEPROM chips, so that such instructions can be modified to correct error conditions or change system performance. Where such chips in the past could only be reprogrammed several thousand times each, they are now capable of being rewritten to several million times before they start to fail.

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