Next generation memory

Just this week, Sony and SanDisk announced a new flash stick that can store a whopping 32 GB – larger than some hard drives and barely the size of a small child’s finger.

But even Sony’s new drive – and everything like it – might be obsolesced in the next five years by a new alloy created by IBM and partners, and unveiled this week in San Francisco, CA.

The alloy is part of a growing field of research called phase-change memory. PCM is common in today’s CD-ROM and DVD drives, where a laser is used to change the physical state of a disc — that is, it’s phase — as a means of storing data.

Just so with IBM’s new PCM alloy, also called GS for the two elements — germanium and antimony — that make it up. With heat, the GS alloy moves between amorphous and crystalline states, reproducing the ones and zeroes used to store the world’s electronic data.

IBM’s GS alloy is also faster than current flash drives by a factor of 500, uses half the power to boot, and weighs in at a mere 3 x 20 nanometers. Like flash, it retains its data when the power is off — a memory quality called “nonvolatile.” But unlike flash, it works as quickly as RAM, meaning that IBM’s alloy might one day make its way into computers and processors as an ultrafast, ultracool, ultrasmall way to store data.

IBM is not alone in looking for bleeding-edge alloys to oust the world’s flash drives. Samsung and Intel have joined the fray, with prototypes set for release in the next two years.

Source: Yahoo! News

Related Links: What is Phase Change Memory?

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