IBM, Macronix and Infineon are working together to develop a new form of computer memory technology known as phase-change memory (PCM). Like Flash memory, the data is maintained even when power is turned off. PCM works by changing the state of special materials from an amorphous to a crystalline structure, as opposed to other, traditional forms of storage which store data as electrical charge. The technology may hold the key to reducing the size of memory cells to sub micron sizes. The companies have announced that they will be committing a total of 20-25 staff to the research work.

It is likely to be several years before any developments make it out of the lab into commercial applications. However, the fact that two of the world's biggest technology companies think it is worth investigating shows that phase change may have a future].