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Tuesday, 25 January 2011 10:42

Boffins come up with universal memory

Written by Nick Farell
y_exclamation

Speed of DRAM with the density of Flash
Boffins at Carolina State University have come up with a "universal" memory technology that combines the speed of DRAM with the non-volatility and density of flash.

Professor Paul Franzon told EE Times that the new memory technology should enable computers to power down memories not currently being accessed, drastically cutting the energy consumed by computers of all types, from mobile and desktop computers to server farms and data centers.

The technology uses a double floating-gate field-effect-transistor (FET) is as fast as DRAM and will need to be refreshed as often. However the densities will be about the same as flash.

The double floating-gates use direct tunneling when storing charge to represent bits. This means that the whole lot is done at lower voltages.

The first floating-gate requires refreshing about as often as DRAM. But if the boffins turn up the voltage its data value can be transferred to the second floating-gate, which acts more like a traditional flash memory, offering long-term nonvolatile storage.

The upshot is that a computer can operate normally until they become idle. Then their data values are transferred to the second gate in order to power down the memory chip.  When the computer needs the stored values, the second gate quickly transfers their stored charge back to the first gate and normal operations can resume.

Franzon said that the method will  enable power-proportional computing, by allowing memory to be turned off during periods of low use.


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Comments  

 
+8 #1 Naterm 2011-01-25 11:38
I've heard this more than once. Scientists invent some new form of fast, non-volatile memory technology (MRAM, ZRAM, Racetrack, ect) and say it's the long sought after universal memory.

Then we never hear anything of it again.

I do think that one of these technologies is eventually going to replace NAND, but I'm not so sure about DRAM. I could see eDRAM replacing SRAM for high-level processor caches, however. IBM used eDRAM for the L3 cache in the POWER7 and saved a bunch of the transistor budget.
 
 
+1 #2 Memristor 2011-01-25 13:09
Sounds all very familiar to the RRAM or ReRam product from HP and Hynix aka Memristor. The specs are very similar, both have less than 0.3ns switching time but the memristor operates at currents less than 30 microamps. It doesn't require to turn up the voltage to store data into the non-volatile memory. All data stored is non-volatile. It seems this new DFG-FET is a bit more complicated to achieve what the RRAM already can do.
 
 
+3 #3 BernardP 2011-01-25 13:24
The Boffins do it again!
 
 
+1 #4 Naterm 2011-01-25 13:30
RRAM and Memeristors are two very different products. RRAM uses a filament set in a dielectric that sets and resets via the application of voltage.

A memristor is a long theorized circuit design in which resistance properties change in relationship to current flowing through it.
 
 
+1 #5 Tranzz 2011-01-25 14:36
Do these product wear like all other flash products??? I cna't see it being to popular if it fails after a year or 2
 
 
0 #6 Memristor 2011-01-25 16:41
Quoting Naterm:
RRAM and Memeristors are two very different products. RRAM uses a filament set in a dielectric that sets and resets via the application of voltage.

A memristor is a long theorized circuit design in which resistance properties change in relationship to current flowing through it.

That's not what HP said:
On April 30, 2008 HP announced a memristor, a new circuit element that is another possible demonstration of RRAM, and on July 8 2010 they announced they would begin prototyping ReRAM using their memristors. link http://www.reuters.com/article/idUS254583059320100901
 
 
+1 #7 thomasg 2011-01-25 21:49
I thought the Boffins were a family of hobbits. I didn't know they had hobbits in Carolina State University, or that such University existed for that matter. Did he mean North Carolina State University? Or the less well-known South Carolina State University?
 
 
0 #8 Naterm 2011-01-25 21:59
That's like saying SRAM and transistors are the same thing because one is constructed of the other. They're building RRAM with memristors, They're not the same thing at all.

I think you could technically build just about anything out of memristors, they're capable of doing logic.
 

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