Intel has demonstrasted a prototype Phase-change Random Access Memory (PRAM) memory chip at IDF Spring 2007 in Beijing, China, claiming that it would start mass-production of it at second half of 2007.
At the keynote speech, Intel's CTO Justin Rattner said that Intel considered replacing NOR flash memory with PRAM first, aiming at replacing DRAM in the future.
Code-named Alverston, the chip is a phase-change memory device. Intel demonstrated a 128-bit sample of the chip at IDF.
Phase-change Random Access Memory uses a material that turns crystalline when heated. The clrystalline bits represent the logical "1" in the binary system of computers, while amorphous areas (bits) represent logical "0"
PRAM is claimed to be scalable than any other memory architecture being researched, featuring the fast processing speed of RAM for its operating functions combined with the non-volatile features of flash memory for storage.
A key advantage in PRAM is its fast performance. Because PRAM can rewrite data without having to first erase data previously accumulated, it is 30-times faster than conventional flash memory. PRAM is also expected to have at least 10-times the life span of flash memory. Moreover, it requires 20 percent fewer process steps to produce than those used in the manufacturing of NOR flash memory.
The phase-change memory concept has been discussed for years now. Intel and Samsung now expect that it will become a non-volatile memory successor to flash memory. Samsung unveiled a 512M-Megabit (Mb) device at its sixth annual press conference in Seoul last September.