Micron Starts Offering World's First Mass-Produced Phase Change Memory Solution

Brad Chacos

In even more "future tech" news, Micron announced today that it has started mass production of a 45nm phase change memory solution for mobile devices. Phase change memory -- so called because it uses heat from an electrical current to flip between varying physical states -- is considered a possible successor, or at least competitor, to Flash in the non-volatile memory market. Micron's chip is the first phase change memory solution to become widely available in quantity.

Micron's 1.8V chip actually contains both 1Gb of phase change memory and 512Mb of low-power DDR2 memory, which share the same interface. The company hopes this initial solution will become popular in feature phones -- unsurprising, given the low total memory amount on the chip. Future designs will target other mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Phase change memory erases cells at the bit level rather than in entire blocks, which makes it faster and more efficient than Flash when it comes to writing data. As far as reading data goes, hopping over to Micron's mobile PCM FAQ page shows that the chip hits random read times of 400MBps -- none too shabby, especially for a first-generation product. Micron says PCM offers faster boot times, as well.

Like Flash, phase change memory has a limited lifecycle, but since each cell can represent multiple bits thanks to their shifty nature, PCM can theoretically last longer than Flash. Micron's new technology is rated for 100,000-plus write cycles.

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