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posted by martyb on Monday January 10, @11:02PM   Printer-friendly
from the computers-without-Alzheimers-department dept.

Mass production of revolutionary computer memory moves closer with ULTRARAM™ on silicon wafers for the first time

ULTRARAM™ is a novel type of memory with extraordinary properties. It combines the non-volatility of a data storage memory, like flash, with the speed, energy-efficiency and endurance of a working memory, like DRAM. To do this it utilises the unique properties of compound semiconductors, commonly used in photonic devices such as LEDS, laser diodes and infrared detectors, but not in digital electronics, which is the preserve of silicon.

[...] Now, in a collaboration between the Physics and Engineering Departments at Lancaster University and the Department of Physics at Warwick, ULTRARAM™ has been implemented on silicon wafers for the very first time.

Professor Manus Hayne of the Department of Physics at Lancaster, who leads the work said, "ULTRARAM™ on silicon is a huge advance for our research, overcoming very significant materials challenges of large crystalline lattice mismatch, the change from elemental to compound semiconductor and differences in thermal contraction."

[...] Remarkably, the ULTRARAM™ on silicon devices actually outperform previous incarnations of the technology on GaAs compound semiconductor wafers, demonstrating (extrapolated) data storage times of at least 1000 years, fast switching speed (for device size) and program-erase cycling endurance of at least 10 million, which is one hundred to one thousand times better than flash.

So... are we approaching the point where we get a plug-in RAM storage module that can be used like nonvolatile RAM -- because it is nonvolatile? And when you've built complex data structures on it with RAM efficiency, you can unplug it and put it, and of course the data, on a shelf for later use?

Or just plug it into a computer when you need an extra 24 gigabytes of RAM to formally verify a category-theoretical theorem?

How would *you* like to use this?

Journal Reference:
Peter D. Hodgson, Dominic Lane, Peter J. Carrington, et al. ULTRARAM: A Low‐Energy, High‐Endurance, Compound‐Semiconductor Memory on Silicon [open], Advanced Electronic Materials (DOI: 10.1002/aelm.202101103)


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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @02:17AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @02:17AM (#1211681)

    So... are we approaching the point where we get a plug-in RAM storage module that can be used like nonvolatile RAM -- because it is nonvolatile?

    No. Programmers count on volatile memory being volatile. That's why you have to reboot all the time. Also, so that private data can be forgotten.

    Anyway, ten million write cycles isn't anywhere close to enough to replace ordinary RAM. Its endurance is closer, in terms of orders of magnitude, to being a CD-R than to being RAM.

    But if the cost works out, it could be a nice replacement for flash in SSDs. Or maybe it could be a cache on the SSD so that frequently written data hits the fast, high endurance memory and the slow, low endurance flash gets used for less frequently updated data.

    An average PC writes about 10GB a day, but it's mostly the same 10GB getting rewritten over and over. If you leave Chrome open 24/7, it will write about 5GB per day just by itself, if not more, almost all of it state checkpoints. Current SSDs deal with this by wear leveling, but a dedicated high endurance area would do even better. Of course, they employ that strategy too, using part of the flash for high capacity QLC data storage and some for high endurance SLC cache. So perhaps the gains from this are not going to be that much.

    Never underestimate the capability of refinements of existing technology in contrast to the next big thing.

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  • (Score: 2) by dmbasso on Tuesday January 11, @01:28PM

    by dmbasso (3237) on Tuesday January 11, @01:28PM (#1211747)

    Bad programmers count on volatile memory being volatile. That's why you have to reboot all the time.

    FTFY.

    --
    `echo $[0x853204FA81]|tr 0-9 ionbsdeaml`@gmail.com
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @06:32PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @06:32PM (#1211852)

    An average PC writes about 10GB

    And that's just the Windows telemetry data!