Smartphones of the future could have 1TB of internal storage

by: Gary SimsJuly 24, 2014


Many of the components in today’s smartphones have changed rapidly over the last few years. ARM processors have gone from single core units running at less than 1GHz to octa-core power houses running at twice the clock frequency. Displays have moved from low resolution 480 x 800 units (or even less) to Ultra HD. Camera’s likewise have gone from around 3MP to 16MP. But what about internal storage? There is no doubt that it has increased from humble devices with less than 1GB of usage flash memory to today’s 64GB behemoths, but there hasn’t been a revolution. Until now that is…

Researchers at Rice University have released details about their work on a new type of Resistive RAM (RRAM). Their new material, which uses porous silicon oxide, reduces forming voltage, improves manufacturability and can be fabricated at room temperature using conventional production methods. In other words, it is cheaper to make and gives higher yields.

The key idea behind RRAM is the use of a dielectric material (one that won’t normally conduct electricity) which is inserted between two wires. When a sufficiently high voltage is applied across the wires, a narrow path forms through the dielectric material. This means the cell can be either “on” or “off” just like a switch, or in computer terms it can be a 1 or a 0.

RRAM-Rice-Uni Tour Group/Rice University

According to Rice University, RRAM is expected to replace current flash memory technologies within a few years. RRAM specialist Crossbar has announced plans for RRAM prototype chips that store about one terabyte on a chip the size of a postage stamp. That is more than 50 times the current data density found in today’s flash memory.

Rice’s new RRAM uses silicon oxide as its dielectric component. Silicon is the most abundant element on Earth, and probably the most studied. It is the most basic ingredient in conventional microchips. In 2010 a research team, led by chemist James Tour, discovered how to create conductive filament pathways in silicon oxide. This then opened the door for the material to be used for RRAM.

If the chemists are to be believed RRAM is the future. “It can be manufactured at room temperature, has an extremely low forming voltage, high on-off ratio, low power consumption, nine-bit capacity per cell, exceptional switching speeds and excellent cycling endurance,” said James Tour.

The new fabrication technique has already got the attention of a several manufacturers who are interested in licensing the technology. Hopefully this means that in the next couple of years we can say good-bye to flash memory and say hello to 1TB of RRAM!

  • Chris

    Go to 2004

    “Computers of the future could have 1TB of storage”


    • Sachin

      That can happen but then there’s greedy companies.

  • Shark Bait

    Smartphones of the future could have 1TB of internal storage……
    Smartphones of the future could have flexable screens…..
    Smartphones of the future could have all week battery……

    come on electron wizards, and graphene gods, lets have it

  • Bruce

    I want to know what is on this phone that is taking up 300GB!

    • Chris

      Touchwiz 2015

      • Bruce

        HAHA, mystery solved!

      • bass

        -heaven forbid-

      • mobilemann


      • anonymous

        Nah need more than that

      • A Skylit [S]unjΔy

        Oh man, that cracked me up!

    • Richard Riker

      A few uncompressed UHD videos?

    • Rubber Chicken


  • Jim

    Blah blah blah, battery life improvement, blah blah blah

  • Letum

    I don’t need 1 TB internal storage, i need 1 week batteries. Seriously, we should i have 1 TB data on my phone, if my battery is empty after one day?

    • Ruz

      1 TB space is equally important buddy

    • Richard Riker

      I don’t know how big todays flash memories are but when you use this technic to produce flash chips with just 64-128 GB but the same data density you can reduce the space the memory needs and use this space for extra battery

    • Cole Raney

      I wish people would quit this argument. They are working on batteries. Just because batteries are the most urgent need doesn’t mean we can’t make breakthroughs in other things.

    • Omegaclawe

      RRAM, according to the spin put on it, should use less power than current flash memory. I mean, yeah, flash memory hardly uses any power, but this could increase your battery life by five whole minutes! Progress!

    • AndroidBrian

      You say you don’t need it now. True for most. Lap tops and home CPUs are eventually going to be replaced by Tablets and cell phones. So clearly this won’t only be a great option in the near future, but a must have for most.

      If this news is true, this will be a big kick in the mouth to cloud storage. Now the cloud will be what it should be… A secure back up storage option & to play purchased media from a source like Apple or Google.

      • Letum

        I’m not saying we don’t need it. I would take it if i could, but for me it’s more important that my phone is running and not to have all my films, docs etc. on it. :-)

    • naniyattenda

      Thats like saying “why should I have 1TB data on my pc if I have to leave it when I go to sleep or work every day.

    • Andrew

      I though phones had poor uptime until I got the Vodafone Smart 4 Max made by some obscure Yulong company.
      I don’t use it much but a few days ago it reported 19 days of uptime and still had 20% capacity, I forget when I last charged it because it usually lasts at least 2 weeks without problems. It’s true that I don’t play too much and the economy option is enabled (WiFi, Bluetooth, Background Data OFF), but I haven’t seen any phone last that much. The battery is 3000mA (3A) which is a lot compared to a car that might have at least 25-30A for small cars and 50+ for “regular” cars.

  • CableGuy

    Yep, lots of developments in this space, take a look at HP Memristor as an example…my view is that ‘storage capacity’ will eventually become a thing of the past and you’ll simply have a memory pool, that can be partly access for what we call storage today and partly for what we call memory today.

  • Rajesh

    You people do understand that 1TB ROM and 1TB RAM are not the same right ?
    Why have 1TB of RAM, if you don’t have applications that utilize that much of it ?
    BTW the ROM is still going to be less dense in the future.
    We can safely assume that we will keep seeing 64G for the foreseeable future.

    My $0.02

    • Technically it isn’t ROM. ROM means Read-Only Memory. Although RRAM is non-volatile, you can write to it, just like you can write to flash. But you are right in saying it isn’t system RAM.

      • Rajesh

        Actually by ROM i meant the programmable ones ;) ie. PROM, EPROM, EEPROM etc. which are writable.
        Thanks anyway. I never knew RRAM was non-volatile. My previous comment is moot.
        I will research better before rambling again :)

  • namesib

    So many research breakthroughs; so few advancements in the tech of actual consumer-level products…

  • Mur

    I don’t even care about phones, I’ve been waiting for this to hit the PC market. Hard drives as fast as RAM? Sweet baby Jesus.

  • Rubber Chicken

    about frakking time!

  • Roberto Tomás

    there’s no point to this reram crap, Samsung already has commercial 3DNAND that packs up to 2 terrabits into each chip — meaning real world 128GB to 1 terrabytes in a smartphone (including overprovisioning). These aren’t pipedream reram, these are real world products already for sale.

    • AndroidBrian

      There Already for sale? Cool. Point me in the direction I can buy my 1TB micro SD please.

  • truth_cutz

    6 months after 1TB phones are released, people will start bitching about 1TB not being enough space.

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  • ToVine

    That memory density, fast switching speeds, cheap to make AND excellent cyclic endurance – imagine what this will do to SSDs… *_*

    This may very well lead to the actual end of the mechanical hard drive era – 9TB (or maybe even 48+TB in 3.5″ form factors, depending on how they are stacked) SSD with better performance and even lower power consumption than todays drives, that lasts longer and has a potentially lower price/GB than HDDs? Hell yes! :D

  • Raphael Tefera

    This is good, but cloud is the future and having terabytes of storage will be irrelevant.

  • Tristan

    This could be huge for gaming. Think about it, a full fledged 7 GB (or higher) game running on your tablet connected to your tv. Maybe theyll start porting “real” games to Android when this happens.

  • Vernon Castle Tyler III

    id like a smart phone with 1 tb storeage, 4mm thick, at least 16 gb ram, octacore at 5 GHz, battery that last a week. 1000 ppi display. 5 .5 inch display, TY i will buy.

  • Stobbart

    It would be awesome to have 1TB of memory on our phones. I always have to uninstall games to download a new one.