Just as youâ€™re about to sit back, relax and thank your electronic elves for the wonders of flash memory and be content with its non-moving parts, speed and small sizeâ€¦here comes another one: it claims to be 500 to 1000 times faster (whoa!) than flash memory and uses just about half as much power to boot.
It is called â€œphase-changeâ€ memory and it is being developed by the electronic elves of IBM USA, Macronix Taiwan and Qimonda Germany. The new phase-change memory chip promises to be smaller, faster, and require less power than flash memory.
Flash memory, such as those in SRAM and DRAM, is a volatile memory type, possessing cells that eventually degrade after rewriting over 100,000 times, which is a particular problem for computers. In comparison, the new smaller and faster phase-change memory is made up of germanium-antimony alloy (GeSb) and is non-volatile, meaning that the phase-change memory does not require electrical power. At the heart of phase-change memory is a tiny chunk of alloy that can be changed rapidly between an ordered, crystalline phase and a disordered, amorphous phase.
The new phase-change memory is geared to power computers and consumer electronics including digital cameras and mobile devices. It is scheduled to hit markets in 2015.