Electronics Production | May 26, 2005

Trio in co-op to develop flash rival

IBM, Infineon and Macronix have formed a joint research initiative to further develop the PCM(Phase Change Memory) technology.
PCM is predicted to compete with the Flash memory technology by among others faster read/write features. It is the phase changing from a special material from amorphous to a crystalline structure that provides shorter read/write cycles than storing data as an electrical charge.

"Flash is slow to write and erase, so it's not a memory you want to use in operating mode where you write all the time, and flash has limited endurance of about 10 to the fifth time", said Bill Gallagher, senior manager of exploratory non-volatile memory at IBM. "Phase change, it seems, will be better in those regards and it's a memory that works well in very small devices. It isn't completely proven, but the hope is that when flash runs into difficulties continuing to scale, phase change memory may be a good option to go to."

In this research area theese three companies are not alone, and certainly not the first. Philips, Elpida Memory and STM are companies probably even closer to enter the market with it's products than the new trio. "We're on the research side; others may go to product quicker, but I think we'll exploit the full potential," Gallagher said to "Hopefully what will come out of this alliance is us really probing the unknown, the new materials, and pushing it further than others might", he finishes.


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