One of the major knocks against NAND flash used in today’s solid state drives is its endurance. Given enough writes, this type of memory will ultimately break down and become useless. That’s apparently not the case with NRAM (non-volatile RAM), a technology from Nantero that’s been in development for the past 14 years.
NRAM is a type of non-volatile storage built using carbon nanotubes. CEO Greg Schmergel said his company’s product is created by laying carbon nanotubes on top of a silicon wafer. The layer is then patterned with lithography and etching with each NRAM cell on a 2x-nanometer node containing hundreds of nanotubes.
As The Tech Report notes, each cell effectively has its own nanotube fabric in which the resistance is low when the tubes are touching and high when they aren’t. Applying a tiny amount of voltage causes the cell to switch states in picoseconds.
The end result is a storage chip that operates at the speed of DRAM, has low power consumption, supports MLC configurations and in theory, has unlimited endurance. They’ve already survived a multitude of strenuous testing from Lockheed Martin and NASA even took a sample to space.
Instead of building products themselves, Nantero is licensing its intellectual property out to third parties. The company said two of the top five semiconductor foundries are already working with NRAM meaning we could see it show up in consumer products sooner rather than later.