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Typically, one of these ICs provides an interface between the USB connector and the onboard memory, while the other is the flash memory.
Serial access requires far fewer electrical connections for the memory chips than does parallel access, which has simplified the manufacture of multi-gigabyte drives.
They are smaller, faster, have thousands of times more capacity, and are more durable and reliable because they have no moving parts.
Additionally, they are immune to electromagnetic interference (unlike floppy disks), and are unharmed by surface scratches (unlike CDs).
As of March 2015 Flash drives with a USB-C interface and other not so common interfaces (such as Fire Wire 400, Fire Wire 800, and Thunder Bolt) are also available.
Inside the plastic casing is a small printed circuit board, which has some power circuitry and a small number of surface-mounted integrated circuits (ICs).
This required considerable computer support, and PC-based EEPROM flash memory systems often carried their own dedicated microprocessor system.