Numonyx phase change memory

Often considered the eventual successor to flash, phase change memory has had a tough time getting to the point where it would truly take over; when it takes longer to write data than conventional RAM, there's clearly a roadblock. The University of Cambridge has the potential cure through a constant-power trick that primes the needed hybrid of germanium, antimony and tellurium so that it crystalizes much faster, committing data to memory at an equally speedy rate. Sending a steady, weak electric field through the substance lets a write operation go through in just 500 picoseconds; that's 10 times faster than an earlier development without the antimony or continuous power. Researchers think it could lead to permanent storage that runs at refresh rates of a gigahertz or more. In other words, the kinds of responsiveness that would make solid-state drives break out in a sweat. Any practical use is still some distance off, although avid phase change memory producers like Micron are no doubt champing at the bit for any upgrade they can get.

Public Access