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Phase-change memory tech boasts 10M write cycles

Posted: 04 Jul 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:phase-change memory? memory applications? non-volatile memory?

IBM Research scientists have demonstrated that the phase-change memory (PCM) technology can reliably store multiple data bits per cell over long periods of time. This significant improvement sets the path toward developing low-cost, faster and more durable memory applications for consumer devices, including mobile phones and cloud storage, as well as high-performance applications, such as enterprise data storage.

With a combination of speed, endurance, non-volatility and density, PCM can enable a paradigm shift for enterprise IT and storage systems within the next five years. Scientists have long been searching for a universal, non-volatile memory technology with far superior performance than flashtoday's most ubiquitous non-volatile memory technology. The benefits of such technology would allow computers and servers to boot instantaneously and significantly enhance the overall performance of IT systems.

A promising contender is PCM that can write and retrieve data 100 times faster than flash, enable high storage capacities and not lose data when the power is turned off. Unlike flash, PCM is also very durable and can endure at least 10 million write cycles, compared to current enterprise-class flash at 30,000 cycles or consumer-class flash at 3,000 cycles, IBM Research said. While 3,000 cycles will outlive many consumer devices, 30,000 cycles are orders of magnitude too low to be suitable for enterprise applications.

"As organizations and consumers increasingly embrace cloud-computing models and services, whereby most of the data is stored and processed in the cloud, ever more powerful and efficient, yet affordable storage technologies are needed," stated Haris Pozidis, manager of memory and probe technologies at IBM ResearchCZurich. "By demonstrating a multibit phase-change memory technology which achieves for the first time reliability levels akin to those required for enterprise applications, we made a big step toward enabling practical memory devices based on multibit PCM."

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