Computer memory technology gets a breakthrough that can usher solid state chips to be developed to store the same volumes as NAND flash technology but enjoying 100 times write performance and significantly longer lifespans. This was announced by computer giant IBM this Thursday.
Today, NAND flash technology in memory products like your compact flash drives and other SSDs (Solid State Devices) can have write performance speeds of up to 2Gbit/sec.
IBM revealed its memory breakthrough involves the use of phase-change memory (PCM) technology to store two bits of data per cell with none of the data corruption concerns that has plagued earlier PCM memory writing applications. Its PCM memory chips employ circuitry that is only 90 nanometers wide.
And similar to NAND flash memory chips embedded in Apple’s MacBook Air and other mobile computers, data stored with PCM is nonvolatile which means a power shut down will not erase memory. But unlike it, PCM-based memory will not have to undergo an erase-write cycle where stored data needs to be marked for deletion before any new data can overwrite it. Typical erase-write cycles wear out NAND flash drives to give it anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 write cycles for consumer electronics while enterprise-grade products can get up to 100,000 write cycles.
According to IBM, its PCM data writing technology can reach and sustain a maximum of 5 million write cycles. Christopher Sciacca, IBM’s manager of communications for research based in Zurich says, “If you can write to flash 3,000 times, that will outlive most cell phones and MP3 players, but that’s certainly not good enough for the enterprise that does that in an hour.”
And as pointed out by Haris Pozidis, IBM’s manager of memory and probe technologies at its research center, companies and consumers will soon be looking for more efficient, powerful and affordable storage solutions as they embrace cloud-computing online services.
Over the last five months, Pozidis disclosed that IBM scientists have been exploring tests for multilevel cell (MLC) technologies in new memory chips capable of storing two bits of data per cell and eventually three – a development that promises a new level of reliability and storage capacity that can meet practical commercial applications.