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Quick Look
Hardware (External hardware)
Include EEPROM.h

This library reads and writes to the FLASH memory on the chipKIT board. The FLASH Memory on chipKIT Boards simulates the EEPROM found on AVR Microcontrollers.

Detailed Introduction

Unlike the AVR micrcontrollers used on the Arduino boards, the PIC32 microcontrollers used on the chipKIT boards don't have internal EEPROM memory. Instead, FLASH memory is used to simulate EEPROM. There are two major differences between FLASH and EEPROM. 1) EEPROM is byte erasable and rewritable. With FLASH an entire page must be erased before any byte can be rewritten. 2) FLASH can't be erased and rewritten as many times as EEPROM. After a limited number of erase/write cycles, the FLASH page will 'wear out', and additional writes may not store the correct value. EEPROM can also wear out, but it typically takes many more writes to wear it out.

To address these issues, the chipKIT EEPROM library uses a page of FLASH memory to simulate EEPROM. The FLASH is used as content addressable memory. A 32-bit word is used for each simulated EEPROM byte. The word stores both the EEPROM address and the byte value. When a write is performed, the page is searched for an unused location, when one is found, the address/data is written to that word. When reading, the page is searched for the address, and then the value is returned. If a location is being rewritten, the old location is marked as invalid and a new location written as described above.

If there are no unused locations available in the page when a write is being attempted, then the page must be erased before the value can be written. The contents of the page is copied to a memory buffer, the page erased, and then the old values plus new value are written back to the FLASH page. This method reduces the number of times that the page must be erased and rewritten.

The PIC32 FLASH page size is 4K (4096) bytes, which allows for simulation of up to 1K (1024) bytes of EEPROM. There is a degenerate case, however, that can lead to rapid wearout of the FLASH page being used. If all of the simulated EEPROM locations have been written (i.e. all simulated EEPROM addresses have been written to), then each additional write results in the page being erased and rewritten, eliminating the benefit of the wear leveling algorithm being used. This library uses two methods to help reduce this problem. The first is adding the clear() method. This method erases the flash page, erasing all simulated EEPROM. If a sketch has been run that uses a large amount of the simulated EEPROM, clear() should be used when that EEPROM content is not longer needed. This will reduce the number of values in the EEPROM that need to be preserved, reducing the number of times that the FLASH page will have to be erased and rewritten. The second method used to reduce the liklihood of premature FLASH wearout is to limit the default EEPROM memory size. By default this library implements 512 bytes of simulated EEPROM. This reserves at least half of the FLASH page to handle rewrites. It is possible to increase the simulated EEPROM size if a larger amount is needed. Two new methods have been added to accomodate this. getMaxAddress returns the current size of the simulated EEPROM. setMaxAddress allows setting it to a different size up to 1024.

Introductory Programs

The following sketch examples demonstrated how to use the EEPROM library object.


This program will read a value from an analog pin and scale it by 1/4th so that it fits into one byte (0-255). The program then continuously writes the values to sequential address locations (0 - 512). The address counter is reset when the address reaches 512.

#include <EEPROM.h>

// the current address in the EEPROM (i.e. which byte
// we're going to write to next)
int addr = 0;

void setup()

void loop()
  // need to divide by 4 because analog inputs range from
  // 0 to 1023 and each byte of the EEPROM can only hold a
  // value from 0 to 255.
  int val = analogRead(0) / 4;
  // write the value to the appropriate byte of the EEPROM.
  // these values will remain there when the board is
  // turned off.
  EEPROM.write(addr, val);
  // advance to the next address.  there are 512 bytes in 
  // the EEPROM, so go back to 0 when we hit 512.
  addr = addr + 1;
  if (addr == 512)
    addr = 0;


This program is a little more practical than the previous example. This example reads the value of each byte of the EEPROM and prints it to the serial output monitor in decimal notation.

 * EEPROM Read
 * Reads the value of each byte of the EEPROM and prints it 
 * to the computer.
 * This example code is in the public domain.
 * Settings:
 * EEPROM.setMaxAddress(int value)
 * This setting will allow a user determine the size
 * of the emulated EEPROM. However this setting has 
 * the potential to prematurely wear out the flash if
 * made to large. The largest allowable address is 1023
 * and the default value is 512

#include <EEPROM.h>

// start reading from the first byte (address 0) of the EEPROM
int address = 0;
byte value;

void setup()

void loop()
  // read a byte from the current address of the EEPROM
  value =;
  Serial.print(value, DEC);
  // advance to the next address of the EEPROM
  address = address + 1;
  // there are only 512 bytes of EEPROM, from 0 to 511, so if we're
  // on address 512, wrap around to address 0
  if (address == 512)
    address = 0;


This example show how to clear the entire EEPROM. It then turns on the default LED pin to signify that the operation has bee completed.

#include <EEPROM.h>

void setup()
  // Clear entire eeprom
  // turn the LED on when we're done
  digitalWrite(13, HIGH);

void loop()

Full library usage


Public Functions

setMaxAddress(unsigned int value)

  void setMaxAddress(unsigned int value);

Allows setting the Max Address to a different size up to 1024. Default is 512.


  unsigned int getMaxAddress();

Returns the current size of the simulated EEPROM


  void clear();

Clears the entire eeprom

read(unsigned int address)

  uint8_t read(unsigned int address);

Reads a byte from the specified address of the EEPROM

write(unsigned int address, uint8_t value)

  void write(unsigned int address, uint8_t value);

Writes the value to the appropriate byte of the EEPROM. These values will remain there when the board is turned off.

External Links

List some links to external resources, such as: