SanDisk and Toshiba test ReRAM chips

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SanDisk and Toshiba have created a 24nm ReRAM test chip as inquirer reports. Sandisk and Toshiba have manufactured a test chip that uses ReRAM or resistive Random Access Memory technology, which is also referred to as the memristor. The chip has been manufactured on a 24nm fab process and has a capacity of 32GB. ReRAM has several advantages over flash insofar as the memory cells are individually addressable like traditional dynamic RAM. In addition it is also non-volatile, which means that it does not lose data when power is turned off.

RAM stores data through changes in the resistance of a cell. There are a variety of ReRAM technologies in development, including phase-change memory (PCM) and HP's memristors, based on at least a half-dozen competing materials.

Expect healthy competition as the industry and buyers sort out the details. NAND flash will retain advantages in cost and density for the foreseeable future, meaning that it will be here for decades to come. So where will ReRAM fit in the storage hierarchy?

  • Data integrity. Losing a snapshot is no big deal. Losing your checking account deposit is. Mission critical applications will prefer ReRAM devices - and can afford them.
  • Performance. Today's SSDs go through many contortions to give good performance - and don't succeed all that well. A fast medium removes complexity as well as increasing performance.
  • Mobility. Depending on how the never-ending tug-of-war between network bandwidth and memory capacity develops, consumers may come to prefer large capacity storage on their mobile devices. If so, ReRAM's power-sipping ways will be an asset on high-end products.

Toshiba is well-positioned to enter these high-end markets with SSDs analogous to today's 15k disks. It may not be a huge market, but the margins will make it worthwhile.

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