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.