Intel and Numonyx have just announced that they have achieved an important breakthrough in he production of Phase-Change Memory. This type of memory is one of the most promising new technologies currently being developed; like Flash memory it retains information when powered off, but provides faster write speeds and better durability.
One of the problems so far has been storage density. Phase-Change Memory works by changing chalcogenide glass between crystalline and amorphous states; the chips containing these are still rather large, and up until now could not be easily stacked on top of each other. Numonyx and Intel claim to have solved this:
The achievements are a result of an ongoing joint research program between Numonyx and Intel that has been focusing on the exploration of multi-layered or stacked PCM cell arrays. Intel and Numonyx researchers are now able to demonstrate a vertically integrated memory cell – called PCMS (phase change memory and switch). PCMS is comprised of one PCM element layered with a newly used Ovonic Threshold Switch (OTS) in a true cross point array. The ability to layer or stack arrays of PCMS provides the scalability to higher memory densities while maintaining the performance characteristics of PCM, a challenge that is becoming increasingly more difficult to maintain with traditional memory technologies.
A paper containing details about the breakthrough will be presented in December.