A new technology called Phase Change Memory (PCM) came a step closer to adoption with the shipment of the first prototype samples of a future product by Intel Corp. and STMicroelectronics. The “Alverstone” samples, 128-Mbit prototypes built on 90-nm technology, are the first functional silicon delivered to customers for evaluation use.
PCM promises fast read and write speeds at lower power than conventional flash and allows for bit alterability normally seen in RAM. The two companies also presented a research paper this week at ISSCC describing the first demonstrable high-density, multi-level cell (MLC) large memory device using PCM. The move from single-bit per cell to MLC brings significantly higher density at a lower cost per megabyte.
“This is the most significant non-volatile memory advancement in 40 years,” said Ed Doller, chief technology officer-designate of Numonyx, the new name for the pending STM and Intel flash memory company. “There have been plenty of attempts to find and develop new non-volatile memory technologies, yet of all the concepts, PCM provides the most compelling solution.”