While flash memory seems to be more popular than ever and has still got a lot to offer, that's not to say it doesn't come with a few major shortcomings in terms of speed, reliability and long-term usage. A new type of non-volatile phase-change memory works out all the above problems by using a new germanium-antimony alloy (GeSb), it hopes to become the next big thing in storage, not only meant to replace flash memory but hard drives as well. According to its developers it is capable of speeds 500 times faster than flash while using half the energy, better stability, and scaling capabilities that allow it to function properly well into the 22nm, which is far smaller than current flash cards.

“These results dramatically demonstrate that phase-change memory has a very bright future," said Dr. T. C. Chen, Vice President, Science & Technology, IBM Research. "Many expect flash memory to encounter significant scaling limitations in the near future. Today we unveil a new phase-change memory material that has high performance even in an extremely small volume. This should ultimately lead to phase-change memories that will be very attractive for many applications."

The secret is the new germanium-antimony alloy which was developed by a team of IBM, Macronix, and Qimonda scientists which allows the change between the crystalline and amorphous states to occur much more rapidly. Although phase-change memory has been around for a while (for example in CDs), this new approach looks very promising.