EEPROM (also E2PROM) stands for electrically erasable programmable read-only memory and is a type of non-volatile memory used in computers, integrated in microcontrollers for smart cards and remote keyless systems, and other electronic devices to store relatively small amounts of data but allowing individual bytes to be erased and reprogrammed.
EEPROMs are organized as arrays of floating-gate transistors. EEPROMs can be programmed and erased in-circuit, by applying special programming signals. Originally, EEPROMs were limited to single byte operations, which made them slower, but modern EEPROMs allow multi-byte page operations. An EEPROM has a limited life for erasing and reprogramming, now reaching a million operations in modern EEPROMs. In an EEPROM that is frequently reprogrammed while the computer is in use, the life of the EEPROM is an important design consideration.
Flash memory is a type of EEPROM designed for high speed and high density, at the expense of large erase blocks (typically 512 bytes or larger) and limited number of write cycles (often 10,000). There is no clear boundary dividing the two, but the term “EEPROM” is generally used to describe non-volatile memory with small erase blocks (as small as one byte) and a long lifetime (typically 1,000,000 cycles). Many microcontrollers include both: flash memory for the firmware, and a small EEPROM for parameters and history.