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Hitachi unveils DRAM, Flash killer

Researchers demonstrate new memory technology with very long name

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Hitachi has developed a new type of memory chip that promises to offer the characteristics of both regular DRAM and Flash memory. Scientists as Hitachi's Cambridge Research Lab call the new memory Phase-State Low Electron Drive Memory (PLEDM). That mouthful essentially means the new chips use the state of electrons held in stacks of transistors to store data. Hitachi claims PLEDM allows bits to be written in ten nanoseconds, faster than DRAM. The company also believes the new device is far more scalable than current memory technology -- unlike DRAM, as the device's transistors get smaller, performance does not degrade. Of course, while Hitachi's team, aided by researchers from Cambridge University, have constructed a single PLEDM cell using a 0.2 micron process, they now have to extend that into a full memory chip. The company believes PLEDM technology will be ready to go into production after DRAM technology has reached the 1Gb level. The company also claims the structure of the PLDEM cell could be easily modified to allow non-volatile chips to be produced. Theoretically, that would allow Flash-type devices to be made as cheaply as ordinary RAM. ®

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