New phase-change memory 500x faster than flash

A trio of semiconductor companies made up of IBM, Matronix, and Qimonda has developed a new, significantly faster type of Phase-change Random Access Memory, or PRAM. Samsung unveiled a PRAM prototype it said was capable of 30 times the performance of traditional flash memory two months ago. However, IBM, Matronix, and Qimonda say their PRAM is more than 500 times faster than flash and requires half the power to record data. The memory is built on a 20nm process.

Despite offering significantly faster performance, PRAM is similar to flash memory in that it’s non-volatile and can retain data even if the host device is switched off. Unlike flash, though, PRAM can be written to an unlimited number of times. IBM and its partners may not introduce 20nm PRAM straight away, but Samsung has stated that it will start shipping PRAM in 2008.

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