Intel and Numonyx Achieve Research Milestone in Phase Change Memory Technology
In a joint research project between Intel and Numonyx, researching phase-change memory (PCM) the two companies have announced a breakthrough, demonstrating a 64Mb test chip that enables the ability to stack, or place, multiple layers of PCM arrays within a single die.
PCM is a non-volatile memory technology based on the phase-change properties of Chalcogenide glass, instead of the traditional silicon transistors used in flash memory.
"The results are extremely promising," said Greg Atwood, a senior employee of Numonyx. "The results show the potential for higher density, scalable arrays and NAND-like usage models for PCM products in the future. This is important as traditional flash memory technologies face certain physical limits and reliability issues, yet demand for memory continues to rise in everything from mobile phones to data centres."
Memory cells are built by stacking a storage element and a selector, with several cells creating memory arrays. Intel and Numonyx researchers were able to use a thin film, two-terminal OTS as the selector, matching the physical and electrical properties for PCM scaling. With the compatibility of thin-film PCMS, multiple layers of cross point memory arrays are now possible. Once the cells are set up in a true cross point array, layered arrays are combined with CMOS circuits for decoding, sensing and logic functions.
While this all seems very technical (It is, so don't worry if you don't understand it all), what it means is that the benefits of this new technology will eventually find their way into consumer hardware and devices, potentially offering increased storage and lower power consumption.
These are very early days for the new technology though, so don’t expect to be popping out to PC World and picking up a Phase-Change Memory based SSD just yet. If PCM technology does tickle your fancy and you'd like to find out more, you can check out the official press release here