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IBM's Huge Breakthrough Regarding Future Commercial Memory

If you take a minute to look at the current state of IT memory, especially at the consumer-level, you'll probably notice all the different options that are available on the market today. Flash-based memory, hard disk drives and even DRAM all have very real and useful applications, which can make it difficult do decide which type of memory is best for your system. However, a recent innovation from IBM, involving PCM or phase-change memory technology, might have just made that decision a whole lot easier.

Up until now, PCM hasn't provided much competition to different the types of memory mentioned above. This is due, in large part, because of the limitations inherent with PCM technology. Whereas PCM cells have only been able to accommodate 1 or 2 bits of data at a time, IBM's newest innovation has made it possible to store 3 bits of data within a single PCM cell.

Although a capacity of 3 bits per cell might not sound like much, it is a vast improvement over past PCM models. Moreover, the upgrade actually makes PCM technology even faster, and less costly, than the current flash memory offerings on the market today.

Dr. Haris Pozidis, manager of non-volatile memory research with IBM Research, spoke about the milestone in a recent press release. He was quoted as saying: " Phase change memory is the first instantiation of a universal memory with properties of both DRAM and flash, thus answering one of the grand challenges of our industry. Reaching 3 bits per cell is a significant milestone because at this density the cost of PCM will be significantly less than DRAM and closer to flash."

There are some other advantages of the newly upgraded PCM technology. Firstly, PCM is a non-volatile form of memory, meaning it won't lose data when powered down. Furthermore, PCM technology is capable of achieving at least 10 million write cycles, whereas traditional USB thumb drives are only capable of reaching 3,000.

IBM Fellow Dr. Evangelos Eleftheriou, who also participated in the project, added to Pozidis' statement by saying: "Combined, these advancements address the key challenges of multi-bit PCM, including drift, variability, temperature sensitivity and endurance cycling."

Making the Transition to PCM

Given the increased speed, lower cost and greater reliability of IBM's latest innovation in phase-change memory technology, it should be quite easy for IBM to win over some new customers with the latest news. However, since there has been no timeline announced for a consumer release of their newest technology, it's anybody's guess as to when we'll see PCM-based technology on the consumer market.

However, when asked about the potential release of PCM, Eleftheriou respondeD: " We have the IP and we could license it to a manufacturer. From the technical point of view we have solved the problems. There are no more roadblocks and it is now ready for market."

To find out more information about IBM, including details on their new PCM technology or any of their other products or solutions, please visit their official website at


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