USB Flash Drive - PCB Vs Chip on Board USB Flash Drive - PCB Vs Chip on Board

One of the most interesting & recent trends in the USB market has been the development of a range of 2mm wafer thin USB card options. These are USB flash drives that make use of UDP flash memory components, which are much thinner than traditional COB (Chip on Board) or PCB (Printed Circuit Board) components, and this has transformed the range of USB models and designs that we have available.

Before UDP, we heralded the arrival of COB solutions as this enabled us to use a solution other than PCBs (which can be rather large and clunky, due to how a PCB works with the separate flash memory module, controller chip and capacitor assembled onto a small circuit board).

The first generation of USB cards to use the smaller chip on board solutions was a 4-5mm thick credit card shaped card, but these have evolved into much thinner 2mm options with a range of different shapes (squares, circles and rectangles) now available using UDP technology.

So what’s the difference between the three?

Considered to be the smallest memory chip type available, this is the most rugged solution as all the components are built together as a solid unit. This makes it more durable and shock resistant than PCB and COB solutions.

This is a type of flash memory chip that is mounted directly onto the PCB and means the physical space taken up within the device is smaller, leading to the device itself being slimmed down. For us, this means we can produce smaller USB devices such as our wafer thin credit card USBs, and also build custom USBs that can be a lot smaller, to suit customer expectations. The chip is not encased or connected, but directly mounted and wire bonded to the board, so there is less wiring to take into account, which also makes them a little tougher than their PCB counterparts.

A PCB mechanically supports and connects electronic components within the unit it is attached to – so PCBs in our USB sticks will be the brains behind their capabilities for memory, auto run, and to simply work at all. Because they are a board made up of 3 different components, they are larger than the chip-on-board solution and can be quite delicate.

So which should I use?
Performance wise, there is no difference – all solutions work well and we only supply USB sticks with top quality components anyway. If we’re using UDP or COB solutions we can produce smaller models in exciting designs (credit card or duck shaped USB sticks, anyone?), but the only downside of buying memory sticks with UDP or chip on board solutions is price – whilst not hugely more expensive, they do carry a small premium so expect to pay around 10% more for any product that uses this smaller form factor. There is no compromise on quality, performance or product life. If you’re looking for a popular “stick” shaped model such as the Twister, then PCB is standard and offers the same in term of performance.

We carry a wide range of USB flash drives as standard, including many that use the smaller Chip on Board and UDP solutions (including lots of card variants). Call us on 0800 008 7079 or email in to [email protected] for further details.


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