|New memory chip will herald more sophisticated and reliable degital devices|
A team of scientists announced a breakthrough in computer memory technology on Monday that heralded more sophisticated and reliable MP3 players, digital cameras and other devices.
Scientists from IBM, Macronix and Qimonda said they developed a material that made "phase-change" memory 500 to 1,000 times faster than the commonly-used "flash" memory, while using half as much power.
"You can do a lot of things with this phase-change memory that you can't do with flash," IBM senior manager of nanoscale science Spike Narayan told AFP.
"You can replace disks, do instant-on computers, or carry your own fancy computer application in your hand. It would complement smaller technology if manufacturers wanted to conjure things up."
Technical details of the research were to be presented to engineers gathered at the 2006 International Electronic Devices Meeting in San Francisco.
Researchers expected the discovery to anoint phase-change memory the successor to flash memory as the electronics industry continues a relentless quest to make devices smaller and more powerful.
The fastest and most economical memory designs -- SRAM and DRAM, respectively -- use inherently leaky memory cells, so they must be powered continuously and, in case of DRAM, refreshed frequently as well.
These "volatile" memories lose their stored information whenever their power supplies are interrupted.
Samsung and Intel have both been working with phase-change memory devices, according to Narayan.
"We have demonstrated the potential of the phase-change memory technology on very small dimensions laying out a scalability path," said Qimonda vice president Wilhelm Beinvogl.
"Phase-change memories have the clear potential to play an important role in future memory systems."