Wednesday, October 13, 2010

#CHIPS: PRAM Aims to Replace Flash Memory

Diagram shows enthalpy curves sketched for the liquid, crystalline and amorphous phases of a new class of nanomaterials called “BEANs” for Binary Eutectic-Alloy Nanostructures. (Image courtesy of Daryl Chrzan)
Researchers at the University of California Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory claim to have a nano-structured formulation that makes phase-change random access memory (PRAM) the prime candidate to replace flash. By storing bits as a phase-change in a polymer—from amorphous to crystalline—PRAM will achieve terabit densities on chips that can pack hundreds of full-length movies and whole libraries of books into our mobile devices. Look for PRAMs to replace flash over the next five years. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

Joel Ager, Daryl Chrzan and Eugene Haller (left to right) claim binary eutectic-alloy nanostructure (BEAN can enable quantum dots and nanowires a phase-changing memory elements for optical data storage technologies. (Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt, Berkeley Lab Public Affairs)

Here is what Smarter Technology says about PRAM: As flash memory becomes so dense that atomic-scale defects cause failure, many different approaches are being tried to replace the aging technology—from ferroelectric RAM (FRAM, which uses electrical polarization to enhance its DRAM-like bit cells) to magnetic RAM (MRAM, which stores information in magnetic bit cells). The most promising alternative for future terabit chips, however, is phase-change RAM (PRAM). PRAM stores bits as an amorphous or crystalline state of its polymer bit cell. Now a new formulation invented by researchers from the University of California (UC) Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) aims to enable PRAM to take the baton from flash memories and win the race to succeed it.

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