IBM announced a development in memory technology today (June 30) that dramatically increases durability and storage speed ― reading and writing data up to 100 times faster than flash memory does.
The new phase change memory (PCM) technology has huge implications for data storage.
Flash memory has been prized for speed and stability, but IBM's "instantaneous" memory is even more impressive. It has no moving parts, like flash memory, but it can last for millions of write-cycles. Flash memory typically becomes unreliable after thousands of write-cycles.
"As organizations and consumers increasingly embrace cloud-computing models and services, whereby most of the data is stored and processed in the cloud, more powerful and efficient yet affordable storage technologies are needed," Haris Pozidis, manager of memory and probe technologies at IBM Research – Zurich, said in a company statement.
The PCM technology involves a special alloy that can change physical states, or phases, with the help of electricity. Other memory technologies tend to start losing their efficacy over time, but IBM's PCM solution looks to be far more durable. What's more, it can store 4 bits of information in each cell, when previous technologies could hold only 1. This completely changes the way data can be stored and could lead to changes in the future.
This technology isn't ready for commercial use yet, and IBM did not offer an estimate of how long it will take to come to market.