First magnetic memory chips hit the market

Freescale has announced the availability of its first commercial magnetic memory chip, the MR2A16A. This product is the first commercially-available application of Magnetoresistive Random Access Memory (MRAM), a non-volatile memory technology that boasts the speed of Static RAM without the drawbacks of flash memory. Indeed, because MRAM is magnetic, it can retain stored data even when powered off. And unlike flash memory, which can also hold data without power, MRAM offers high performance and doesn't degrade over time. According to an analyst quoted by Yahoo News, MRAM is "the most significant memory introduction in this decade."

Despite its advantages, however, MRAM may not be taking over iPods and laptops just yet—Freescale's MR2A16A chip only stores 4 Mb, or 512 KB, of data. Nevertheless, Freescale says the chip is appropriate for printers as well as networking, security, data storage, and gaming devices. Larger MRAM devices are also on the horizon; back in February NEC, and Toshiba announced an MRAM chip capable of storing up to 16 Mb (2 MB) of data. The chip can hit transfer rates of 200 MB/s, the two companies said. Thanks to reader Michael Gilbert for the tip.

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