As semiconductor processes shrink to ever smaller dimensions, flash memory becomes both less reliable and more complex and expensive. So far, the technology is managing to keep pace with development but physics dictates that ultimately the gates will get small enough that there simply won't be enough electrons to yield a functional memory.
Phase-change memory (PCM) offers a promising, if controversial, alternative. Indeed, the amount of research activity in the area is matched only by the spirited discussion that takes place whenever we run a feature on the topic. In this Technology Roundup, you can follow the dialogue and the evolution of the technology beginning with an overview and running up through the latest presentations.
Phase-change memory: A rebuttal of Micron’s article PCM may have issues with scaling, starting with current densities on the order of 107 to 108A/cm2, thermal crosstalk, and materials interactions. This is the start of a series of perspectives features and technology reviews by Ron Neale, formerly head of the PCM program at Harris Semiconductor.
PCM scalability--Myth or realistic device projection? PCM devices may be promising, but they do have serious issues. Neale presents a more detailed discussion of some of the concerns he aired in the article above. PCM Scalability:The Myth (Part 2) Neale addresses some of the comments from the Memory Designline's expert readers that were generated as a result of the first article. PCM Progress:Temperatures rise and constituents on the move For those, both optimists and pessimists, who follow PCM developments, IEDM2010 offered something for both camps. Cwo papers in particular, provided the not all good news, not all bad news contrasts. Ron Neale explores some of the significant points of each, along the way reviewing the impact both might have on the overall picture of PCM progress.