George Perlegos was recognized as the 2017 Flash Memory Summit Lifetime Achievement Award winner "for chip design and fabrication process inventions used in EPROM, EEPROM and Flash Memory devices which have been instrumental in the ubiquity of non-volatile memory."
George’s career began at Intel in 1974 where he was a key developer of three significant NVM products. The first of these was the Intel 2708 8Kbit EPROM, which proved critical in the success of the Intel 8080 and early microprocessor system growth, and which contributed a significant portion of Intel's chip revenue and profit during the 8080 era.
Next was the Intel 2716 16 Kbit EPROM, which used a single-voltage power supply and a much smaller die that packed twice the density of the 2708, and which proved critical in the success of the Intel 8085. The third device was the Intel 2816 16 Kbit EEPROM, which was the world’s first commercially successful EEPROM product. Unlike the EPROM, an EEPROM could be electrically erased and programmed in-system, and thus eliminated the need for lengthy exposure to an ultraviolet light. All three of these products were important milestones that paved the way for flash memory.
With a team of Intel engineers, George co-founded SEEQ Technology, Inc. in 1981 where he led development of the first single-voltage EEPROM by including an on-chip charge pump to produce the high voltage and low current necessary to support tunnel programming. This important invention was used in subsequent EEPROM devices, and remains in use throughout the flash memory industry.
Perlegos’ entrepreneurial spirit led him to co-found ATMEL Corporation in 1984, a company that created some of the world’s most successful embedded EEPROM and Flash Memory devices, as well as the world’s first microcontroller with on-chip flash. ATMEL remained an important industry player for over 30 years. Its flash business was purchased by Adesto Technologies in 2012, and Microchip paid over $3 billion for the remainder of the business in 2016. Billions of ATMEL-designed flash devices are used in consumer products such as garage door openers and microwave ovens, and these “DataFlash” products are now gaining importance in Smart Home and Internet of Things applications. ATMEL's business model included being a fabless semiconductor company, a revolutionary approach pioneered by Xilinx which has been important in the success of the electronics industry.
Lifetime Achievement Award (LAA) Committee member Brian Berg, George Perlegos, LAA Committee member Jim Handy, and Micron President and CEO Sanjay Mehrotra
“George Perlegos has been a revolutionary force in our industry,” said Sanjay Mehrotra, SanDisk co-founder and current Micron President and CEO. “He was my mentor when I was a non-volatile memory designer at both Intel and SEEQ, and he had a huge impact on my professional life as well as that of countless others. I could not be happier to see him receive this honor as it is so well deserved.”
Jeff Katz, a 17-year co-worker of Perlegos’ who was with him as Chief Marketing Officer throughout ATMEL's most productive and successful years, stated "George's early EPROM and EEPROM circuit techniques as well as his microcontroller-based embedded flash innovations have helped pave the way for the huge success of the flash memory industry."
“It is only fitting that we honor George Perlegos for his groundbreaking work to develop and manufacture flash memory and the technologies that preceded it,” said Jim Handy of Objective Analysis. “Without his enormous contributions, flash memory might never have achieved the leadership position that it holds today.”
“Throughout his extraordinary career, George Perlegos has embodied the characteristics of leadership, entrepreneurial spirit and vision that have contributed to the importance of the flash memory industry,” said Brian Berg, Flash Memory Summit Technical Chair and President of Berg Software Design. “The FMS leadership team is delighted to honor George with the Flash Memory Summit Lifetime Achievement Award.”