The limits of technology may be quickly closing on NAND flash memory, but another door appears to have suddenly opened as two Japanese companies, Elpida Memory and Sharp, have co-developed a next-generation memory chip that could commercialized as early as 2013.
Resistive random access memory chips, or ReRAM as theyre called, consume far less power than conventional NAND flash memory and are capable of writing data 10,000 times faster.
Today, NAND flash memory is found throughout cell phones, mobile devices and digital cameras across the commercial spectrum. But the limitations of the technology, in terms of power consumption, capacity and reliability, have frustrated developers.
According to a report in The Nikkei business daily, a ReRAM chip incorporated device will be able to download high-definition movies literally in several seconds and cut power consumption to virtually zero when on standby mode.
ReRAM can be created with very small feature sizes, allowing it to scale to future process generations. It is also employs a low-cost manufacturing process, making it a potentially adoptable technology by any number of manufacturers.
The technology is being developed in collaboration with the University of Tokyo, a host of chip equipment manufacturers and the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.
Elpida and Sharp arent the only companies dabbling in ReRAM technology and other new forms of flash memory. Japans largest chipmaker, Toshiba, is developing a new form of memory through a layered structure, while Samsung has been experimenting with ReRAM for several years.
Fujitsu developers have worked in recent years on ReRAM, while HP and Hynix Semiconductor partnered on a similar venture in just the last year.