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!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
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

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?