Samsung throws its toys into PRAM

Samsung is throwing its toys out of the pram and into PRAM. That’s phase-change random access memory.

Samsung will unveil its cutting-edge foray into the world of phase-change random access memory at an upcoming developers conference, though we don’t expect any perambulators to make an appearance. 

PRAM has been around for years and in development by a number of companies, including Micron and IBM.  However, the non-volatile memory, which is a potential replacement for NAND flash memory, has been a long way from making it into consumer devices.

At the 2012 International Solid-State Circuits Conference Samsung will present its 8 Gbit 20 nanometre device, the programme of which can be seen here.

This means quite a jump in development. As EETimes points out, Samsung showed off a 1Gbit 58nm PRAM device in February, while IBM has been mucking around with a 90nm version.  

As well as a much smaller process, there is an eight times jump in size. Whether or not the technology is likely to become widely available is unclear until the device debuts, but it certainly shows Samsung is serious.

Phase change memory operates by detecting the fluctuations from amorpous to crystalline states of a chalcogenide alloy when each cell is heated, making PRAM one of the fastest memory types around.  This heating process has caused problems which have hampered development in the past.

It’s hoped that phase change memory, which is combined with a LPDDR2-N interface, could offer vastly superior endurance over NAND which deteriorates over a number of write cycles.