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Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Goodbye NAND flash? Startup's new storage holds insanely high promise

Imagine a few years from now having a smartphone or an iPad equipped with extremely nonvolatile memory, retaining information for decades, is ultra-fast, can be made cheap with already-existing manufacturing technology, and holding a terabyte of data.

Your reaction is probably gonna be the same as mine: "Shut up and take my money!!"

A Crossbar RRAM chip sitting atop a CMOS
A little company called Crossbar came out roaring yesterday with its announcement about developing what it's calling resistive RAM (RRAM).  And as The Register is reporting, this could be the "flash killer" that makes NAND memory - which is fast approaching the upper limit for feasibility - obsolete.

From the article:
"With our working Crossbar array, we have achieved all the major technical milestones that prove our RRAM technology is easy to manufacture and ready for commercialization," said Crossbar CEO George Minassian when announcing his company's new NAND flash competitor. "It's a watershed moment for the non-volatile memory industry."
Whether Minassian's exuberance is justified remains to be seen, but Crossbar RRAM tech certainly looks good on paper. The company claims that due to the tech's "simple" three-layer structure, it can be stacked in multiple layers resulting in multiple terabytes of storage space in a single chip "the size of a postage stamp."
Performance claims are also worth a gander. Compared with top-notch NAND flash memory, Crossbar claims that its tech will provide 20x faster writes at 20x lower power and with "10x the endurance," all in a die size that's half that of comparable NAND.
Lots of technical specs at the link above, comparing Crossbar's RRAM with standard NAND.  I haven't read the whitepaper about it yet but if somewhere in there it indicates that RRAM also has NAND's problem with cell degradation licked, this is looking to be the hot next big thing in computer technology.

That, and it would be nice to carry an entire Blu-ray collection around on my iPad :-)