Academic institutes and commercial companies have been researching resistance-change memories for many decades. Some of the most promising yet-to-be-commercialized memories are based on metallic-oxide structures but along with that research has come the understanding that at the nanometer-scale silicon oxide structures can demonstrate bistable resistance and non-volatility.
Resistive RAMs, or ReRAMs, promise to take up less space and use less energy than deployed technologies such as NAND flash memory. If silicon and oxygen -- the two most basic materials used in the wafer fab for integrated circuit production -- can be crafted into non-volatile memory, it could be a significant development.
In 2012 a team from University College London published a paper in the Journal of Applied Physics--Resistive switching in silicon suboxide films in which they claimed to be able to perform the change in resistance in silicon oxide films more efficiently than had been previously achieved.
"Our ReRAM memory chips need just a thousandth of the energy and are around a hundred times faster than standard flash memory chips. The fact that the device can operate in ambient conditions and has a continuously variable resistance opens up a huge range of potential applications," said Tony Kenyon of UCL's department of electrical and electronic engineering in a statement at the time.
The UCL team are not alone and not the first in trying to fashion silicon-oxide to perform as a memory. A research team under Professor James Tour at Rice University has also reported progress.
UCL ReRAM test circuits on broken wafer. Source: UCL/Adnan Mehonic
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Probaly 1st used for power gating and not for logic, low level logic that does not need speed.
If contact resisitanc eis made low enough these could be put in series to provide better MTBF for the case of stuck switch on.
Low frequency logic will also be applicable for this.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.