I cannot quite remember how long we have been discussing a replacement for flash memory, which was first shown by Intel in 1988 in the shape of a shoebox-sized 256 Kb NOR flash board and was followed by a NAND version produced by Toshiba one year later. Back in 2004, I wrote an article for Tom's Hardware that discussed possible successors for flash. The common belief in the industry was that flash economics would be running out of steam sometime in 2007 or 2008.
Seven years later, flash is still going strong, but we are still talking about successors, we just don't know what it will be and when they will be mature enough to compete with the now 22-year old NAND technology. Purdue now suggests that it could be a "ferroelectric" polymer that enables the development of a "new type of ferroelectric transistor."
Called FeTRAM, the memory is said to be in a "very nascent stage" and there is not even a prototype. However, the theory and a test circuit exist and the scientists behind the project claim that the technology will enable memory devices that are faster than flash and consume less power.
"Our present device consumes more power because it is still not properly scaled," said Saptarshi Das, one of the scientists working on the technology.. "For future generations of FeTRAM technologies one of the main objectives will be to reduce the power dissipation. They might also be much faster than another form of computer memory called SRAM."
There was no information when the technology will be shown in a prototype, but Das noted that a patent application has already been filed. According to the researchers, FeTRAMs "are similar to state-of-the-art ferroelectric random access memories, FeRAMs, which are in commercial use but represent a relatively small part of the overall semiconductor market." However, other than FeRAMs, FeTRAMs allow for "nondestructive readout, meaning information can be read without losing it."