Memory breakthrough could lead to weeks between mobile recharges
Technology uses 100 times less power than nonvolatile memory; could keep devices running weeks or more on single charge
Computerworld - University of Illinois engineers have developed a form of ultra-low-power non-volatile memory could someday provide consumers with hand-held devices that go without recharging for weeks or even months.
The results of the study by a team of engineers, lead by assistant professor Eric Pop, was published late last week in Science Express, which posts selected papers in advance of publication in the print version of Science magazine.
The team has so far been able to store few hundred bits of data, but they hope to scale up production to create arrays of memory bits that can operate together.
They also want to create multi-bit memory, not unlike today's multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash-based solid state drives (SSDs) in order to achieve greater data density.
The research is based on an existing technology known as phase-change random access memory, or just phase change memory (PCM). However, instead of using metal wires as resistors, the research team used carbon nanotubes that are 10,000 times thinner than a human hair and that require far less power than standard PCM.
PCM products are being manufactured by very few companies today, having yet to catch on as a mainstream technology. Among the companies working with PCM are Intel, STMicroelectronics and Numonyx, which shipped its Omneo line of 128-Mbit NOR-compatible PCM products last year. Samsung last year announced a 512Mbit PCM RAM chip for use in mobile handsets.
PCM uses chalcogenide, a glassy substance containing silvery semiconductors, such as sulfur, selenium or tellurium. The semiconductors have a property that allows their physical state - the arrangement of their atoms -- to be changed from crystalline to amorphous through the application of a small zap of electricity. The two states have very different electrical resistance properties that can be easily measured, making chalcogenide ideal for data storage.
The University of Illinois engineers said in order to create a bit of data using their new technology they place a small amount of PCM in a nanoscale gap formed in the middle of a carbon nanotube, which is 10 nanometers wide. They can switch the bit "on" and "off" by passing small currents through the nanotube.
They say their technology is faster than typical PCM and uses 100 times less energy, which offers portable devices much longer battery life.
The engineers say they are working to further reduce power consumption by further improving energy efficiency.
"Even though we've taken one technology and shown that it can be improved by a factor of 100, we have not yet reached what is physically possible. We have not even tested the limits yet. I think we could lower power by at least another factor of 10," Pop said.
- Data Warehouse Augmentation: The Queryable Data Store While organizations have, to date, been busy exploring and experimenting, they are now beginning to focus on using big data technologies to solve...
- Rebranded Quadmark revamps its IT solutions with Google Apps Switching to Google Apps halved Quadmark's IT admin costs while achieving 10% time savings per employee. The global consulting firm now spends 80%...
- CrashPlan PROe Security Because mobile laptops often are connected to unsecured networks, a very high standard of security is required to ensure privacy.
- Protecting Digitalized Assets in Healthcare Healthcare providers face an urgent, internal battle every day: security and compliance versus productivity and service. For most healthcare organizations, the fight is...
- Live Webcast LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- Make or Break: New Auto Products Must Go To Market On Time This Webcast quantifies the value of time to market for the auto industry and highlights how Primavera Enterprise Portfolio Management can help organizations. All Data Storage White Papers | Webcasts