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IBM: Phase Change Memory to Operate Beyond 150°C

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 21 comments

IBM has been granted a patent for an exotic phase change memory (PCM) cell structure the allows the technology to retain its data retention characteristics at temperatures above 150 degrees Celsius (300 degrees Fahrenheit).

The patent, which was filed as an application in November 2009 and approved on July 31, 2012, describes a memory cell that uses techniques such as insulation material as well as growth-dominated phase change material to achieve "superior" memory qualities at increasing temperatures. The inventors explain that a current  sent through the phase change material creates ohmic heating and causes the phase change material to melt.

Phase change memory is based on the idea of taking advantage of behavior of chalcogenide glass, which can assume crystalline and amorphous states, depending on the temperature. Gradual cooling results in a crystalline state of the material and abrupt cooling quenches the phase change material into the amorphous state. Once quenched, the crystallization temperature decreases "and the amorphous region is surrounded by a crystalline layer which acts as a seed for growth," the patent states. The problem: "If the phase change memory cell is raised to a higher temperature, the data stored within the memory cell may be lost or degraded due to changes in the size and shape of the amorphous region."

IBM's solution is a phase change memory cell with the characteristics of

  • A bottom electrode
  • A top electrode separated from the bottom electrode
  • Growth-dominated phase change material deposited between the bottom electrode and the top electrode and contacting the bottom electrode and the top electrode and surrounded by insulation material at sidewalls thereof
  • The phase change memory cell in a reset state only includes an amorphous phase of the growth-dominated phase change material within an active volume of the phase change memory cell
  • The phase change memory cell comprises a current path that includes interface regions between the bottom electrode
  • The growth-dominated phase change material and the top electrode such that a reset current at a predetermined value above the nominal reset condition flows along the current path
  • The growth-dominated phase change material is fully amorphized after the reset operation, and wherein the interface regions comprise gallium (Ga) atoms

There is no information of a commercial application of the patent.

 

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Top Comments
  • 28 Hide
    freggo , September 9, 2012 7:42 PM
    No more LED lights in the case, just the romantic glow of the memory chips :-)
  • 22 Hide
    sylvez , September 9, 2012 8:26 PM
    aoneoneso what happens beyond this memory idea, is that increasing temperatures will forever hold any data information forever, thus making it practically indestructible. In other words, porn viewers downloading data and info onto their harddrives and thinking you can wipe it away by burning it .. ha fat chance pervert!!


    ... why pervert?? Internet is for porn.

    Back to topic, IBM really needs to file another patent of this with rounded corners just in case.

  • 16 Hide
    funguseater , September 9, 2012 7:21 PM
    And I thought my GTX480 was hot... imagine Ram at 150degrees.
Other Comments
    Display all 21 comments.
  • 16 Hide
    funguseater , September 9, 2012 7:21 PM
    And I thought my GTX480 was hot... imagine Ram at 150degrees.
  • 28 Hide
    freggo , September 9, 2012 7:42 PM
    No more LED lights in the case, just the romantic glow of the memory chips :-)
  • -9 Hide
    aoneone , September 9, 2012 8:10 PM
    so what happens beyond this memory idea, is that increasing temperatures will forever hold any data information forever, thus making it practically indestructible.

    In other words, porn viewers downloading data and info onto their harddrives and thinking you can wipe it away by burning it .. ha fat chance pervert!!
  • 22 Hide
    sylvez , September 9, 2012 8:26 PM
    aoneoneso what happens beyond this memory idea, is that increasing temperatures will forever hold any data information forever, thus making it practically indestructible. In other words, porn viewers downloading data and info onto their harddrives and thinking you can wipe it away by burning it .. ha fat chance pervert!!


    ... why pervert?? Internet is for porn.

    Back to topic, IBM really needs to file another patent of this with rounded corners just in case.

  • 8 Hide
    Anonymous , September 9, 2012 8:49 PM
    Great! I was waiting for a way to speed up my toaster!
  • -3 Hide
    falchard , September 9, 2012 9:22 PM
    This patent is way to generic. Are you kidding me? A specific material setup in a specific way for a specific purpose with a working model. Better luck next time IBM on your broad implementation of a specific method of memory cooling. I think we all came up with this common method for use a special glass material.
  • 1 Hide
    K2N hater , September 9, 2012 9:25 PM
    sylvezBack to topic, IBM really needs to file another patent of this with rounded corners just in case.

    Phase chips have a cold side and a hot side. Guess some IBM engineer switched the side, melted the whole thing and now patented the mess.
  • 1 Hide
    razor512 , September 9, 2012 9:30 PM
    I wonder, what is the endurance of the various phase change chips coming out?

    there are a few in development but since it is relying on what pretty much a chemical reaction or a gas meaning you are dealing with relatively short half lives (reason why plasma screens don't last as long), and other forms of decay.

    if it is just designed for NV storage, then it can be good for machines that work in hot environments, or at least bring technology one step closer to designing a rover that can function on a planet such as Venus.
  • 1 Hide
    nforce4max , September 9, 2012 9:34 PM
    May as well use this with vacuum tubs, fallout 3 pc hello lol.
  • 8 Hide
    shin0bi272 , September 9, 2012 9:36 PM
    So not only is it 100x faster than flash and lasts for millions of write cycles and is cheaper to produce than flash but now it even operates in temperatures well above what flash can do... Sooo why do we not have this in a hard drive yet there IBM? Whats the hold up?
  • 0 Hide
    boiler1990 , September 9, 2012 9:59 PM
    funguseaterAnd I thought my GTX480 was hot... imagine Ram at 150degrees.

    Now there's actually a reason to watercool RAM...
  • 3 Hide
    mmstick , September 9, 2012 10:33 PM
    shin0bi272So not only is it 100x faster than flash and lasts for millions of write cycles and is cheaper to produce than flash but now it even operates in temperatures well above what flash can do... Sooo why do we not have this in a hard drive yet there IBM? Whats the hold up?

    There are a lot of procedures and protocols to follow into getting new technology onto the market. And there is even more time and money that must be spent on creating manufacturing factories that can cheaply manufacturer this stuff with high precision, instead of only being a laboratory prototype constructed in ideal perfect conditions. The consumer market is usually 10 years behind latest scientific efforts, so don't expect to see this anytime soon.
  • 1 Hide
    memadmax , September 9, 2012 10:38 PM
    For some reason, all the talk about the phase changes crystalline growth had me thinking that one day we could have ram that "grows" with use.
  • 1 Hide
    madjimms , September 9, 2012 11:39 PM
    Give me my Ga (gallium) CPU at 800Ghz & I'll be happy.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , September 10, 2012 4:30 AM
    now THIS is a patent, not pinching, flicking and shapes...
  • 0 Hide
    murzar , September 10, 2012 7:55 AM
    So.. now memory can be clocked higher without worrying about cooling it?

    I hope the next graphic cards from AMD/NVIDIA come with 10000 MHz meory clocks!
  • 0 Hide
    ojas , September 10, 2012 10:50 AM
    mmstickThere are a lot of procedures and protocols to follow into getting new technology onto the market. And there is even more time and money that must be spent on creating manufacturing factories that can cheaply manufacturer this stuff with high precision, instead of only being a laboratory prototype constructed in ideal perfect conditions. The consumer market is usually 10 years behind latest scientific efforts, so don't expect to see this anytime soon.

    Yeah it took around 15 years for Intel to get their tri-gate transistors to the market...
  • 1 Hide
    digiex , September 10, 2012 1:36 PM
    Global warming ready!
  • 0 Hide
    master_chen , September 10, 2012 1:58 PM
    BURN, BURN, BURN!!!! MUAHAHAHAHAHA!!! (c) De Loco
  • 0 Hide
    ithurtswhenipee , September 10, 2012 2:48 PM
    Did I miss what the advantage of this type of RAM is? Faster, more reliable? Only thing I see is increased ambient temperature in the chassis.
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