So where is the technology that can store our high-definition home cinema collection on a single chip? Or every book we would ever want to read or refer to? Flash can’t do that. In labs across the world, though, an impressive array of technologies is lining up that could make such dreams achievable.
I used to follow news stories on new computer memory technology on the IEEE.com website. I didn’t always understand all the terms and technologies, but I did want to know what might be coming on the market in a couples of years. Magnetic RAM seemed like a game changer as did Ferro-Electric RAM. Both of them like Flash could hold their contents without the computer being turned on. And in some ways they were superior to Flash in that they read/write cycle didn’t destroy the memory over time. Flash is known to have a useful fixed lifespan before it wears out. According to the postscript in this article at New Scientist flash memory can sustain between 10,000 and 100,000 read/write cycles before it fails. Despite this, flash memory doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, and begs the question where are my MRAMs and FeRAM chips?
Maybe my faith in MRAM or Magnetic RAM was misplaced. I had great hopes for it exactly because so much time had been spent working on it. Looks like they couldn’t break the 32MB barrier in terms of the effective density of the MRAM chips themselves. And FeRAM is also stuck at 128MB effectively for similar reasons. It’s very difficult to contain or restrict the area over which the magnetism acts on the bits running through the wires on the chip. It’s all about too much crosstalk on the wires.
This article mentions something called Racetrack Memory. And what about Racetrack Memory so called RRAM? It reminds me a lot of what I read about the old Sperry Univac computers that used Mercury Delay Lines to store 512bits at a time. Only now instead of acoustic waves, it’s storing actual electrons and reading them in series as needed. Cool stuff, and if I had to vote for which one is going to win, obviously Phase Change and Racetrack look like good prospects right now. I hope both of them see the light of day real soon now.