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News Link • Technology: Computer Hardware

IBM Demos Phase Change Memory That Reliably Packs Multiple Data Bits Into Single Cells

• Clay Dillow via PopSci.com

IBM researchers in Zurich--working alongside their stateside colleagues--have demonstrated for the first time that phase change memory (PCM) can reliably store multiple data bits per cell over long periods of time. By tweaking their “read” and “write” processes to mitigate problems that have dogged PCM for years, the breakthrough could spell the beginning of a long, slow phase out of flash in everything from mobile devices to cloud storage.

Like flash, PCM is a non-volatile memory technology. But PCM has the potential to blow flash performance out of the water. PCM could boost overall performance of backbone IT systems by orders of magnitude. Computers could boot instantaneously. The cloud could grow at rates that might actually keep up with all the stuff we’re shoveling into the cloud.

But phase change memory isn’t the simplest nut to crack (for fuller explanations of how it works, click through the link below. Or try Wikipedia). Simply put, PCM takes advantage of the change in resistance that takes place when a material changes phases, in this case from a crystalline structure to an amorphous one. Crystalline structures exhibit high resistance and amorphous low resistance.

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