IBM Develops Memory 100x Faster Than Flash

Faster 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.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • SpadeM
    With news like this you wonder why facebook is valued at 70 billion ...
  • reprotected
    I went on Wikipedia to find out that this technology isn't as new as I thought it was.
  • kriswitak
    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.
  • michalmierzwa
    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... :-(
  • master9716
    Wow . to bad its going to take years for this technology to reach our hands.
  • klavis
    Hurray for IBM, they are continuing to show us why they are still relevant!
  • hoofhearted
    There is alot of other "new tech" that they need to make money from before the newest tech makes it into our hands.
  • winner4455
    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.
  • enforcer22
    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 :)
  • razor512
    So what you're saying is IBM is lazy and wont be releasing the new memory any time soon.