|| "Don't be shy" said
"Our readers would love to see you."
14 years of "MRAM will soon replace flash"nv memory
alternatives to flash?
|The 3rd "no-show" factor in
the 2000 to 2013 period was the so-called "flash SSD killer" - a
competing type of non volatile memory which might (one day) replace flash.
There have been many different technologies in this category - today called "storage
class memory". Here's a small selection of nv memory cry-wolf stories that
I picked out of the
|MRAM - the new Core Store?|
|Editor:- June 10, 2003 - IBM and Infineon Technologies
today announced they have developed the most advanced Magnetic Random Access
Memory (MRAM) technology to date by integrating magnetic memory components into
a high-performance logic base.|
Today's announcement could accelerate
the commercialization of MRAM, a breakthrough memory technology with the
potential to begin replacing some of today's memory technologies as early as
2005. MRAM could lead to 'instant on' computers, allowing users to turn
computers on and off as quickly as a light switch.
| "MRAM has the potential to become the
universal memory technology of the future," said Dr T. C. Chen, VP Science
and Technology, IBM Research. "This breakthrough demonstrates that MRAM
technology is rapidly maturing and could fundamentally alter the entire memory
marketplace within the next few years."
By combining IBM technology with Infineon's expertise in creating very
high-density semiconductor memory, the companies believe MRAM products could be
commercially available as early as 2005.
|SAMSUNG Introduces New
Nonvolatile Memory - PRAM|
|Editor:- September 11, 2006 - Samsung announced that
it has completed the first working prototype of what is expected to be the main
memory device to replace high density NOR flash within the next decade a
Phase-change Random Access Memory.|
| The company unveiled the 512M-Megabit PRAM
device in Seoul today. More scalable than any other memory architecture
being researched, PRAM features the fast processing speed of
RAM for its operating
functions combined with the non-volatile features of
flash memory for storage,
giving it the nickname "Perfect RAM."
A key advantage in PRAM is its extremely fast performance. Because
PRAM can rewrite data without having to first erase data previously accumulated,
it is effectively 30 x faster than conventional flash memory. Incredibly
durable, PRAM is also expected to have at least 10x the life span of flash
PRAM will be a highly competitive choice over NOR flash, available
beginning sometime in 2008. Samsung designed the cell size of its PRAM to be
only half the size of NOR flash. Moreover, it requires 20% fewer process steps
to produce than those used in the manufacturing of NOR flash memory.
- it took Samsunganother
3 years to get the 512Mb PRAM into production.
|IBM Previews Racetrack
Solid State Storage
|Editor:- April 10, 2008 - IBM researchers have
details about a new type of high density non volatile memory.|
"Racetrack" memory is so named because the data "races"
around the wire "tracks". IBM suggests that in the next 10 years - the
new memory could compete with
flash at a much lower
price per gigabyte. The new technology uses magnetic domain storage but without
the high current needed by earlier solid state magnetic devices.
if you ever wondered how all those other non volatile RAM-like technologies -
which flash into the SSD news
pages briefly and then disappear for years - might fit into the
future SSD landscape
- an IBM/SNIA white paper called -
Class Memory - the future of solid state storage (pdf) extrapolates memory
chip technology trends upto 2020.
|Unity Semiconductor Unveils
|Editor:- May 19, 2009 - Unity Semiconductor
exited stealth mode and stated its aim to have the lowest manufacturing
cost per bit in the non volatile memory industry with a new breakthrough
company said it will ship 64Gb devices in volume in 2011. Unity Semiconductor
says it will develop and produce NAND flash successor technologies and
products that, in time, will extend into high ]performance embedded and
"It's a Technology for Terabits that
will challenge high volume rotating magnetic media" said Unity
Semiconductor Chairman, President & CEO Darrell Rinerson a former executive
at Micron Technology
and at AMD.
company, also announced today it has closed a Series C funding round for $22
million. This brings to nearly $75M the total funding to date in Unity
|world's first PCIe PCM SSD|
|Editor:- June 14, 2011 - NVSL ( the Non-Volatile Systems Lab at
a prototype PCIe PCM (phase-change memory) SSD - with R/W speeds upto 1.1GB/s
and 327MB/s respectively and 8GB usable capacity.|
A spokesperson for
the Moneta SSD design team - Professor
Steven Swanson said "...Moneta gives us a window into the future of
what computer storage systems are going to look like, and gives us the
opportunity now to rethink how we design computer systems in response."
Swanson says he hopes to build the 2nd generation of the Moneta
storage device in the next 6 to 9 months and says the technology could be ready
for market in just a few years as the underlying phase-change memory technology
Editor's comments:- in a white paper
PCM Storage Array (pdf) the team outlines the design and architecture of
their PCM SSD prototype and also compares aspects of performance with entry
level PCIe flash SSDs from
Fusion-io. In a
I warned that you should not pay too much heed to comparative PCIe SSD
benchmarks - because from different arbitrary selected angles they can "prove"
different arbitrary performance rankings. I wouldn't be surprised if some
investors take fright that a PCM SSD scored higher than a Fusion-io SSD in some
of the published graphs. But for those who understand SSD architecture it
doesn't reveal anything new.
In my view this prototype clearly
demonstrates the strengths and weaknesses of PCM as an SSD technology.
PCM SSD strengths vs flash
The granularity of writes
in PCM is smaller and faster - which means that small R/W operations have higher
IOPS. If you have apps where that is important you can simply buy
SSDs with various
ratios of integrated RAM cache. That would give you small block IOPS
better than PCM - end of story. PCM has higher
than SLC - which means that the
overhead applied to endurance can be lighter than in most flash systems. Hence
potentially faster latency through to the media.
weaknesses vs flash
The prototype PCIe SSD card provides capacity
which is similar to RAM SSD
density - but with a large block R/W throughput which is much lower than
flash arrays. This
implementation used 16MB PCM chips.
Flash allows higher capacity writes
to a single chip - and this gives better peak performance results than PCM when
exploited in parallel architecture arrays. You can't get those flash peak
performance numbers from a PCM array in the same board footrpint - because many
PCM chips have to be written to concurrently to achieve the same capacity R/W
as a single flash chip. That means with today's technologies - flash SSDs
have a higher proportion of ready to write memory chips in the same chip count
population as PCM SSDs.
For more about alternative SSD technologies -
see SSD's past phantoms.
|"PCM is a bigger
threat to supercaps than it is to flash..."|
to various strategists and investors in June 2011 in response to comments
a news story
by IBM that its researchers had proven the viability of multi-bit storage.
In the past decade PCM had lost several previous geometry
generations of economic viability because flash capacity roadmaps had gotten
several boosts from MLC and then x3 - each time raising the bar for PCM.
phase memory may replace power holdup
and DRAM caches
in some flash SSDs. But the idea that pcm will significantly replace flash
in SSDs in the next year or so is ridiculous.
IBM and other non
volatile memory makers have been over hyping their technologies and saying
that they will kill or replace flash soon -
for the past 8 years.
And I can remember similar claims from other nv RAM researchers going back to
the 1970s (before flash).
|"You read a lot on
web pages like this about SSDs one day replacing hard drives. Hard drives have
been around for 56 years - but nothing is sacred when it comes to technology
wars and for various reasons flash SSDs might be lucky to reach their mid 20s."|
storage news archive
- February 6, 2012 - Rambus aims at replacement for flash SSDs |
|"10 years ago,
Intel declared that flash memory would stop scaling at 65nm, prompting
the need for a new replacement technology. Thinking the end was near for flash,
a number of companies began to develop various next-generation memory types,
such as 3D chips, FeRAM, MRAM, phase-change memory (PCM), and ReRAM. Many of
these technologies were originally billed as universal memories.|
Memories Fall Back to Earth, by Mark LaPedus,
Senior editor - SemiMD (September 20, 2012)|
|"The memristor concept is
like an air castle. It looks like something but actually nothing. It seems like
a new thing, but finally you found it still talked about the same thing. If you
say it stands for nothing, they will tell you that it comprises everything."|
|An insightful reader comment to
Is Memory Focus at IEDM (EETimes) (October 2013)|
"We are still the only company shipping any kind of MRAM product... We
have shipped over 50 million units. ... our new silicon on 40nm is a 256Mb chip."Phillip LoPresti,
CEO - Everspin
in an interview - Inside
The MRAM (September 2015)