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IBM, Macronix and Qimonda Develop Phase-Change Memory Chip

IBM, Macronix and Qimonda Develop New Memory Chip, phase-change

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December 11, 2006 – Researchers at IBM, Taiwanese semiconductor provider Macronix, and German DRAM manufacturer Qimonda have jointly developed a prototype of the "successor to flash memory," according to an IBM press release today.  The new phase-change memory chip promises to be smaller, faster, and require less power than flash memory. It is scheduled to hit markets in 2015.

The new IBM/Macronix/Qimonda memory chip measures 3x20 nanometers and is 500 times faster than flash memory, according to the release.Even better, the prototype requires only half the power that flash memory does, according to the release.  With multiple applications, the new phase-change is geared to power computers and consumer electronics including digital cameras and mobile devices.

Traditional flash memory 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.

"These results dramatically demonstrate that phase-change memory has a very bright future," said IBM Research Vice President T.C. Chen of Science and Technology.  "This should ultimately lead to phase-change memories that will be very attractive for many applications," he said.

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