Skip to main content

IBM touts Flash-killer

IBM has built a prototype storage device with two partners that they claim is 500 times faster than Flash.

It uses less than half the power of Flash memory and can be built in ultra-thin form factors most likely unavailable to Flash. In short, a Flash-killer and potentially the answer for a universal memory type for mobile devices.

Infineon spin-off Qimonda, and flash memory company Macronix will show the device at an IEEE conference in San Francisco this week. It uses a new germanium-antimony (GeSc) semi-conductor alloy in a device with a 3nm by 20nm cross-section - far smaller than today's flash and one predicted to be achieved in 2015 using Moore's Law extrapolations of chip component size.

Dr TC Chen, an IBM Research VP, said: "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."

Most Flash memory used today has a "floating gate" charge-storing cell designed not to leak. Flash retains its stored data and requires power only to read, write or erase information. This makes thememory popular in battery-powered portable electronics. Non-volatile data retention would also be a big advantage in general computer applications, but writing data onto Flash memory is thousands of times slower than DRAM or SRAM.

Also, Flash memory cells degrade and become unreliable after being rewritten about 100,000 times. This is not a problem in many consumer uses, but is another show-stopper for using flash in applications that must be frequently rewritten, such as computer main memories or the buffer memories in networks or storage systems. A third concern for Flash's future is that it may become extremely difficult to keep its current cell design non-volatile as Moore's Law shrinks its minimum feature sizes below 45 nanometers.

The IBM/Macronix/Qimonda joint project's phase-change memory achievement is important because it demonstrates a non-volatile phase-change material that can switch more than 500 times faster than flash memory, with less than one-half the power consumption, and can do this when scaled down to at least the 22-nanometer node, two chip-processing generations beyond floating-gate flash's predicted brick wall.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Iran: A Rummy Guide

To borrow a phrase used for Iraq, there are 'things we now know we don't know.'Back in June 2002, as the Bush administration started pushing hard for war with Iraq by focusing on fears of the unknown—terrorists and weapons of mass destruction—Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld explained that when it came to gathering intelligence on such threats, "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." Elaborating, Rumsfeld told a news conference: "There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don't know."Now there's a crisis brewing with Iran. And the same basic problem applies: what is known, what is suspected, what can be only guessed or imagined? Is danger clear and present or vague and distant? Washington is abuzz now, as it was four years ago, with "sources" talking of sanctions…