ReRAM: Say Goodbye to NAND Flash Memory

By | May 29, 2012

Resistive Random Access Memory (ReRAM) is one of the most promising new developments in the pipeline. These chips, made entirely from silicon oxide, offer a far superior alternative to the NAND flash memory currently used in almost all of our devices. An article on Engadget states that researchers at University College London have already made chips using this technique that run at 100 times the speed of the NAND chips of today.

Speed is what IT tech professionals look for when they're looking to maximize efficiency in midsize businesses. Sharp and Elpida are collaborating in the production of this technology, and they claim that the chips will be able to reach speeds 10,000 times those possible at the moment. Panasonic, too, has ReRAM products in the making. Hewlett-Packard and Hynix Semiconductor will also be working together in this field. At this rate of development, we may see the end of conventional NAND flash memory within the next two to three years.

The new method of constructing the chips using only silicon oxide offers many advantages. First, silicon oxide has much more flexible conductivity, meaning it can fulfill the multiple functions of a memristor; it is useful for both storing and processing data. While current RAM wipes its data the moment it loses power, the silicon oxide composition of this new RAM allows it to work as non-volatile RAM memory. What this means is that it can retain data even when the device has been switched off, in a similar way to flash memory in USB drives, only at the much faster write speed of around 10 nanoseconds.

The production of the chips is expected to be significantly more simple, in that they will not require any vacuums to function. This will save money in production, and consequently, the general public will likely not have to dig too deep to take advantage of this new technology.

The combined affordability, speed, and versatility of the chip allows for a broad range of uses and a high chance of commercial success. RAM issues are the primary cause of web application crashes and frozen computers, making the new RAM practical for IT professionals at midsize businesses struggling with these workplace issues. Operating a business on outdated hardware can also reflect poorly on the quality of a company. According to BBC News, Dell has already been taken advantage of ReRAM in its servers, as its non-volatile memory helps to protect data against power failures. The low voltage used by the chips makes them suitable for battery-powered devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablet PCs, as the lower power demand could significantly extend the devices' battery life. Other possible applications are fire alarms and televisions. These factors of increased efficiency and reduced cost make this new RAM a technology practical for IT professionals at midsize businesses looking to keep their hardware up to speed.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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