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IBM Develops Memory 100x Faster Than Flash

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 64 comments

The memory of the future?

Faster than this guyFaster than this guy

IBM today announced that, for the first time, scientists at its research arm have demonstrated that a relatively new memory technology, known as phase-change memory (PCM), can reliably store multiple data bits per cell over extended periods of time.

The benefits of such a memory technology would allow computers and servers to boot instantaneously – much faster than what even the fastest SSD today can do. IBM believes that PCM can write and retrieve data 100 times faster than flash while also not losing data when the power is turned off. 

Unlike flash, PCM is also very durable and can endure at least 10 million write cycles, compared to current enterprise-class flash at 30,000 cycles or consumer-class flash at 3,000 cycles.  While 3,000 cycles will out live many consumer devices, 30,000 cycles are orders of magnitude too low to be suitable for enterprise applications.

"As organizations and consumers increasingly embrace cloud-computing models and services, whereby most of the data is stored and processed in the cloud, ever more powerful and efficient, yet affordable storage technologies are needed," states Dr. Haris Pozidis, Manager of Memory and Probe Technologies at IBM Research – Zurich.  "By demonstrating a multi-bit phase-change memory technology which achieves for the first time reliability levels akin to those required for enterprise applications, we made a big step towards enabling practical memory devices based on multi-bit PCM."

It's big step, for sure, but don't expect flash-based storage to suddenly get replaced by PCM. That SSD RAID configuration that you've been lusting after for your ultimate rig will still be the fastest storage solution for a good while.

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Top Comments
  • 26 Hide
    klavis , July 4, 2011 9:02 AM
    Hurray for IBM, they are continuing to show us why they are still relevant!
  • 23 Hide
    michalmierzwa , July 4, 2011 7:23 AM
    Its sad, but are we really going to see such vast hardware improvements in our lifespan? Its a pleasure to read about new discoveries, don't get me wrong, but its like waiting for Diablo 3 to come out, it takes such a long time that I am going to grow out of games form waiting... :-(
  • 15 Hide
    alchemy69 , July 4, 2011 11:39 AM
    Now all they need is a bus that's 100x faster to go with it.
Other Comments
    Display all 64 comments.
  • 10 Hide
    reprotected , July 4, 2011 6:56 AM
    I went on Wikipedia to find out that this technology isn't as new as I thought it was.
  • 5 Hide
    kriswitak , July 4, 2011 7:02 AM
    I for one am glad that people are not just contempt with Flash Memory. As long as we keep pushing for higher standards, we can get close to the "future" we all keep imagining in our imaginations.
  • 23 Hide
    michalmierzwa , July 4, 2011 7:23 AM
    Its sad, but are we really going to see such vast hardware improvements in our lifespan? Its a pleasure to read about new discoveries, don't get me wrong, but its like waiting for Diablo 3 to come out, it takes such a long time that I am going to grow out of games form waiting... :-(
  • 9 Hide
    master9716 , July 4, 2011 7:35 AM
    Wow . to bad its going to take years for this technology to reach our hands.
  • 26 Hide
    klavis , July 4, 2011 9:02 AM
    Hurray for IBM, they are continuing to show us why they are still relevant!
  • 2 Hide
    hoofhearted , July 4, 2011 9:05 AM
    There is alot of other "new tech" that they need to make money from before the newest tech makes it into our hands.
  • 14 Hide
    winner4455 , July 4, 2011 9:17 AM
    reprotectedI went on Wikipedia to find out that this technology isn't as new as I thought it was.


    I think this advancement is more about how they implemented this technology into an extremely fast and reliable memory rather than the technology itself. Think of it like a hard drive, we've had the technology for years but now we can have gigabytes of space instead of megabytes.
  • 5 Hide
    enforcer22 , July 4, 2011 9:50 AM
    razorburnSoo, how many years till SkyNet goes online??


    Going to need a new terminator for the next date since it was suppose to have happen already :) 
  • -7 Hide
    razor512 , July 4, 2011 10:00 AM
    So what you're saying is IBM is lazy and wont be releasing the new memory any time soon.
  • 2 Hide
    izmanq , July 4, 2011 10:05 AM
    can't they just implement this sooner, why should we wait ? :D 
  • 9 Hide
    razor512 , July 4, 2011 10:15 AM
    izmanqcan't they just implement this sooner, why should we wait ?


    The people at IBM value the art of procrastination and spend a lot of time and money on procrastination.
  • 14 Hide
    back_by_demand , July 4, 2011 11:21 AM
    razor512The people at IBM value the art of procrastination and spend a lot of time and money on procrastination.

    The people at IBM are good at playing the long game, and seeing as they pump more into R&D than Intel makes in turnover I would defy you to do as good a job as they do.

    Whilst other companies bang out a press release for a tiny incremental upgrade these guys are quietly building the future.
  • 15 Hide
    alchemy69 , July 4, 2011 11:39 AM
    Now all they need is a bus that's 100x faster to go with it.
  • 0 Hide
    michalmierzwa , July 4, 2011 11:48 AM
    alchemy69 , agree with you 100%. When are there going to be authentic performance motherboards or hardware that actually keeps up to the speed? Why do we have theoretical top speed like in SATA HDD tech but real life test don't perform, anyone?
  • 2 Hide
    azgard , July 4, 2011 12:30 PM
    michalmierzwaalchemy69 , agree with you 100%. When are there going to be authentic performance motherboards or hardware that actually keeps up to the speed? Why do we have theoretical top speed like in SATA HDD tech but real life test don't perform, anyone?


    Latency.
  • -7 Hide
    razor512 , July 4, 2011 12:56 PM
    Why not just move to a 500mm die and put 2TB L1 cache on the CPU.

    Or just keep it the way it is but make it 2TB and allow the system to slowly cache the hard drive to it (many users rarely shutdown their systems so this can allow users to get the speed benefit of a storage like medium that can do over 200GB/s ?

    Or take the standard ssd and move each memory chip to it's own channel, then make it larger and sell it for under $ 50

    the manufacturing cost of a SSD is far less than that of a standard HDD.

    IBM needs to stop being lazy and release a SSD with the new tech and allow users to max out their current bus and allow performance to be boosted when they get a new board with a faster bus.
  • -1 Hide
    mauller07 , July 4, 2011 1:08 PM
    michalmierzwaalchemy69 , agree with you 100%. When are there going to be authentic performance motherboards or hardware that actually keeps up to the speed? Why do we have theoretical top speed like in SATA HDD tech but real life test don't perform, anyone?


    The tech never reaches its max due to overhead caused by error checking and send receive acknowledgments.

    razor512Why not just move to a 500mm die and put 2TB L1 cache on the CPU. the manufacturing cost of a SSD is far less than that of a standard HDD.


    No other memory is as fast as sram used on a processor die so you would actually cause a performance hit to the processor, SSD's may be cheaper to manufacture but they are still a niece product and they recoup the low volume production and R&D through their high prices.
  • 1 Hide
    techguy911 , July 4, 2011 1:08 PM
    Some scientist believe, that the advancement rate will simply begin to slow down because of increasing costs of developing new technology.
    Notice that innovations are now years in the making 10+years due to costs so new ideas like this take close to 20 years to hit the shelf.
  • -1 Hide
    alidan , July 4, 2011 1:19 PM
    anyone read this as a thumb drive?

    dont get me wrong, but i have a thumb drive slow as hell, but make it 100 times faster, and hell, better than the best ssds non raid, and possibly in raid too.

    now, i want to know about this ssd are cheaper than hdd to make. can someone show me a link on this? and if its true, can someone show me a way to take my rage out...
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