IBM, SK Hynix alliance promises phase-change RAM

By on June 12, 2012, 4:30 PM

According to the Korea Times, SK Hynix has partnered with IBM to usher in phase-change memory, also known as PcRAM and PCM, as potentially the next generation of non-volatile flash memory.

SK Hynix seems to believe its days as a DRAM manufacturer are numbered but with the assistance of big blue, the company hopes to get a competitive jump start in a future market where DRAM and flash alternatives like MRAM, STT-MRAM and Re-RAM are expected to burgeon.

Make no mistake: we've been hearing about phase-change memory for awhile. For example, I remember first reading about phase-change memory way back in 1999. I would provide a link, but I'm sure the article has crumbled to dust by now.

However, every so often though, our vague recollections of these grand tales featuring PCM are jogged by new and exciting breakthroughs. Those discoveries, often made by the likes of IBM and Intel, suggest PCM is an imminent reality.

PCM promises far higher densities, a property which should translate to higher storage capacities in smaller physical spaces. Phase-change memory also boasts throughput and access times that vastly improve upon existing NAND flash solutions like SSDs -- by some counts, that improvement is nearly a thousand fold. Let's not forget about durability either, another metric by which PCM is expected to trump current flash technologies.

Despite its impressive gains over flash memory though, don't expect it to replace your set of Corsair Dominators any time soon. Thus far, PCM continues to be too slow to best DRAM technologies like DDR and GDDR.

IBM stated last year that they expect PCM to hit shelves by 2016, but as always, readers are urged to exercise caution before marking such events on their calendars as unwavering truths.

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