Flash memory is a massive market in the mobile industry, a $60 billion market to be precise. It’s used in virtually every handheld electronic device, from cameras to tablets, but yesterday Crossbar announced its new type of memory chip which could replace the traditional flash memory that we’re all so familiar with.
Crossbar’s new technology is known as Resistive RAM (RRAM), which offers substantial storage and speed improvements over existing flash memory. For a start, the new chip can store a terabyte of data on a chip no larger than the size of a postage stamp, that’s a lot more memory than currently ships with a new smartphone.
RRAM will also transfer and read data up to 20 times faster than existing flash memory, whilst consuming significantly less power. Crossbar believes that it can write data at 140 megabytes per second, compared to 7 megabytes a second for flash, whilst read performance is 17 megabytes per second. The company also notes that its technology has 10 times the endurance of existing NAND flash chips.
It’s all very impressive sounding stuff, which is no doubt why the company hasn’t had any trouble attracting $25 million from investors so far, but what does this mean for our handsets and when could we be making use of this new technology?
Providing that Crossbar isn’t being too boastful about its new technology, faster memory will certainly make loading applications and booting up our devices much faster, and significant increases in storage size will obviously allow mobile users to store more high quality content and download larger apps, such as more complicated games.
However, adoption of this new technology depends other SoC manufacturers making their chips compatible. There’s no real reason why they wouldn’t, eventually, but production capabilities are going to have to rival that of existing flash memory manufacturers, and we’re all too aware of problems caused by component shortages. Fortunately, Crossbar built a working memory array using current manufacturing technologies, so ramping up production shouldn’t be too difficult.
There’s no timetable for release as of yet, but keep your eyes peeled for Crossbar RRAM in the not too distant future.