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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Phase-change memory - Altered states

Computing: Phase-change memory chips, an emerging storage technology, could soon dethrone flash memory in smartphones, cameras and laptops
AS EVERY parent knows, a tidy bedroom is very different from a messy one. The number of items in the room may be exactly the same, but the difference between orderly and disorderly arrangements is immediately apparent. Now imagine a house with millions of rooms, each of which is either tidy or messy. A robot in the house can inspect each room to see which state it is in. It can also turn a tidy room into a messy one (by throwing things on the floor at random) and a messy room into a tidy one (by tidying it up). This, in essence, is how a new class of memory chip works. It is called “phase-change memory” and, like the flash memory that provides storage in mobile phones, cameras and some laptops, it can retain information even when the power is switched off. But it promises to be smaller and faster than flash, and will probably be storing your photos, music and messages within a few years.
The technology relies, as its name suggests, on special substances called phase-change materials (PCMs). These are materials, such as salt hydrates, that are capable of storing and releasing large amounts of energy when they move from a solid to a liquid state and back again.........read more

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