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Monday, December 03, 2012
Heat Lets Flash memory Beat Typical 10,000-cycle Limit

Heat can stop flash memory wearing out, researchers in Taiwan have found, adding that memory materials could be "repaired" to make them last 100 million cycles.

Flash memory is widely used in computers and electronic gadgets. However, flash memory's reliability suffers significantly after about 10,000 write and read cycles.

Later this month, engineers from Macronix plan to report the invention of a self-healing NAND flash memory that survives more than 100 million cycles. The announcement will be made This month, at the 2012 IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting.

Researchers at electronics company Macronix have found a way around this by re-designing chips to put a heater alongside the memory material that holds the data.

The Macronix researchers are adding an onboard heater to the memoty, which applies a jolt of heat to small groups of memory cells for only a few milliseconds. Briefly heating those locations to about 800C returned damaged memory locations to full working order, the reseasrcher claimed. The heating process also consumes small amounts of power so should not significantly reduce battery life on portable gadgets, they said.

Tests carried out by Macronix on the new memory chips shows that they can last at least 100 million write and read cycles.

Macronix said it planned to capitalise on its research but gave no date for when the improved flash memory might start appearing in gadgets.

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