A joint research conducted by scientists from IBM, Macronix, and Qimonda gives a major boost to a new computer memory which could well succeed flash memory.
A joint research conducted by scientists from IBM, Macronix, and Qimonda gives a major boost to a new type of computer memory that could well be the successor to flash memory.
The research augurs well for the future of "phase-change" memory, which is much faster than- and is scaleable to dimensions smaller than- flash memory.
"Phase-change" memory has, at its heart, a tiny chunk of a semiconductor alloy, which can be changed rapidly from an ordered, crystalline phase with low electrical resistance, to a disordered, amorphous phase with much higher electrical resistance.
Since no electrical power is required to maintain either phase of the material, "Phase-change" memory is non-volatile by nature.
Coming back to the research, the scientists worked together at IBM Research Labs, and succeeded in designing, building, and demonstrating a prototype "Phase-change" memory device that was able to switch over 500 times faster than flash, while using less than half the power required to write data to a cell.
The prototype "Phase-change" memory device measures a miniscule 3 by 20 nanometers, which is far smaller than the size of any flash memory on the market today.
The new memory material is a complex semiconductor alloy, designed with the help of mathematical simulations specifically used in phase-change memory cells. A patent has been reportedly filed covering the composition of this new material.
Commenting on the research, Dr T C Chen, Vice President of Science & Technology, IBM Research, said, "These results dramatically demonstrate that phase-change memory has a very bright future. Many expect flash memory to encounter significant scaling limitations in the near future. Today, we unveil a new phase-change memory material that has high performance even in an extremely small volume. This should ultimately lead to phase-change memories that will be very attractive for many applications."
Adding to it, Dr Wilhelm Beinvogl, Senior Vice President of Technical Innovation, Qimonda AG, said, "Emerging memory technologies, like phase-change memory, are important elements of Qimonda's advanced memory development. We have demonstrated the potential of the phase-change memory technology on very small dimensions, laying out a scaleability path. Thus phase-change memories have the clear potential to play an important role in future memory systems."
Miin Wu, Chairman and President of Macronix, added, "Macronix is dedicated to developing non-volatile memories. The recognition from IEDM and ISSCC proves that our collaborative efforts with IBM and Qimonda have achieved continuous success in phase-change memory technology."
The technical details of the joint research will be presented on Dec 13 at the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) 2006 and International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) in San Francisco.