News: New phase-change memory could supercharge your smartphone.
IBM scientists have found a breakthrough in storing 3 bits of data per cell through a new memory technology known as phase-change memory (PCM).
The breakthrough is claimed to transform memory storage which can store data in a ster and easier way in order to meet demand of exponential growth of data from mobile devices and the Internet of Things.
The scientists said that PCM materials have two stable states, the amorphous (without a clearly defined structure) and crystalline (with structure) phases, of low and high electrical conductivity, respectively.
In order to store ‘0’ or a ‘1’ which is called bits in a PCM cell, high or medium electrical current is applied to the material.
In PCM cell, ‘0’ is programmed to be written in the amorphous phase or a ‘1’ in the crystalline phase, or vice versa while low voltage is applied to read the bits back as in re-writable Blue-ray Discs.
But the researchers from IBM have found a breakthrough in successfully storing 3 bits per cell in a 64k-cell array at elevated temperatures and after 1 million endurance cycles.
It is huge improvement on previous technology through which scientists had successfully demonstrated how to store 1 bit per cell in PCM.
For storing 3 bits per cell, the scientists have developed a set of drift-immune cell-state metrics and drift-tolerant coding and detection schemes.
IBM Research – Zurich manager of non-volatile memory research and one of the authors of the paper Dr. Haris Pozidis said: "Phase change memory is the first instantiation of a universal memory with properties of both DRAM and flash, thus answering one of the grand challenges of our industry.
"Reaching 3 bits per cell is a significant milestone because at this density the cost of PCM will be significantly less than DRAM and closer to flash."
Scientists are looking to use the technology as standalone PCM as well as hybrid applications, which combine PCM and flash storage together, with PCM as an extremely fast cache.
With the technology, scientists are expecting that a mobile phone’s operating system could be stored in PCM, which will help it launch in a few seconds.
The technology could also be used in enterprise environments, as the entire databases could be stored in PCM, allowing faster query processing for time-critical online applications, such as financial transactions.