Electronic memory designs in the past have largely relied on the formation of transistors. However, research into crossbar switch based electronics have offered an alternative using reconfigurable interconnections between vertical and horizontal wiring arrays to create ultra high density memories. Two leaders in this area are Nantero which has developed a carbon nanotube based crossbar memory called Nano-RAM and Hewlett-Packard which has proposed the use of memristor material as a future replacement of Flash memory.
Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania have developed nanowires capable of storing computer data for 100,000 years and retrieving that data a thousand times faster than existing portable memory devices such as Flash memory and micro-drives, all using less power and space than current memory technologies.
Tests showed extremely low power consumption for data encoding (0.7mW per bit). They also indicated the data writing, erasing and retrieval (50 nanoseconds) to be 1,000 times faster than conventional Flash memory and indicated the device would not lose data even after approximately 100,000 years of use, all with the potential to realize terabit-level nonvolatile memory device density.
Current solid-state technology for products like memory cards, digital cameras and personal data assistants traditionally utilize Flash memory, a non-volatile and durable computer memory that can be erased and reprogrammed electronically. Data on Flash drives provides most battery-powered devices with acceptable levels of durability and moderately fast data access. Yet the technology’s limits are apparent. Digital cameras can’t snap rapid-fire photos because it takes precious seconds to store the last photo to memory. If the memory device is fast, as in DRAM and SRAM used in computers, then it is volatile; if the plug on a desktop computer is pulled, all recent data entry is lost.
Therefore, a universal memory device is desired that can be scalable, fast, durable and nonvolatile, a difficult set of requirements which have now been demonstrated at Penn.
This may not be as impressive as the Optical Memory 50.000 Times Faster, but if this nano-memory gets here before optical memory… I’ll just make due with the nano-memory for a while.