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Appeared on: Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Samsung Develops 8-Gbit Phase-change Memory

Samsung will present an 8-Gbit, 20-nm Phase Change Memory chip at the 2012 International Solid-State Circuits Conference.

Samsung's memory device has been built in a 20-nm process technology, it is operating at 1.8-V and has a 40-Mbyte/s programming bandwidth. This puts phase-change memory at close to the same geometry and memory cell density as NAND flash.

Last February, Samsung presented a 1-Gbit phase-change memory implemented in a 58-nm manufacturing process technology equipped with a low-power double-data-rate nonvolatile memory (LPDDR2-N) interface at ISSCC 2011.

PCM uses a material that turns crystalline when heated. The crystalline bits represent the logical "1" in the binary system of computers, while amorphous areas (bits) represent logical "0"

PRAM is also more scalable than any other memory architecture being researched and features 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 extremely fast performance. Because PRAM can rewrite data without having to first erase data previously accumulated, it is effectively 30-times faster than conventional flash memory. PRAM is also expected to have at least 10-times the life span of flash memory.

Samsung claims that PRAM will be a highly competitive choice over NOR flash, since it requires fewer process steps to produce than those used in the manufacturing of NOR flash memory.

However, technical challenges to PCM continue to exist over the ability of the heating effect to scale both within the memory cell and due to thermal cross-talk effects on neighboring cells.

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