Taiwan group expects PRAM chips in three years

Taiwan research group sees PRAM out in 3 years.

A government-funded Taiwanese research institute says it will have phase-change memory products out within three years, while another memory technology to rival DRAM (dynamic RAM), magnetoresistive RAM (MRAM), may be available by the end of 2008.

The Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), in partnership with six Taiwanese chip makers, started developing phase-change memory two years ago. So far, the group has been awarded about 50 patents for the technology and produced prototype chips and finished silicon wafers. Silicon wafers are the raw materials chips are etched on, and a single wafer holds dozens or hundreds of finished chips. A finished wafer is a sign of progress for a new chip manufacturing technology.

The original research partnership between ITRI and its chip partners will end next June, but a new partnership will likely be formed, said Chang Shun-hsien, promotion manager for ITRI's Nanoelectronic Technology Division.

PRAM can retain data when power to the chips is shut off, similar to conventional flash memory. But PRAM can rewrite data 30 times faster flash memory, and is expected to have at least 10 times the life span.

Several other companies are also developing phase-change memory, which serve as a replacement for DRAM and other applications, such as embedded memory.

ITRI may not be the first to market with a PRAM product. That honor could go to Samsung Electronics, the world's largest memory chip maker, which unveiled a working prototype of a 512M-bit chip last year, and expects to make them available commercially in early 2008.

But ITRI and other companies could beat Samsung with chips that have bigger capacities or serve different functions.

The chip makers involved in the ITRI project are Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC), ProMOS Technologies, Powerchip Semiconductor, Nanya Technology, Macronix International and Winbond Electronics.

Other chip makers developing phase-change memory include Intel, IBM, Qimonda, STMicroelectronics, Hynix Semiconductor, and Ovonyx.

TSMC and ITRI are also working on MRAM technology. The two have been awarded over 40 patents related to MRAM technology, said Chang. TSMC will likely have the technology ready and available for customers by the end of next year or early in 2009, he said.

MRAM combines the ability to retain data when power is shut off with fast processing speeds comparable to DRAM. DRAM is speedy, but it cannot retain data without electrical power.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Dan Nystedt

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?