A while back, I posted a likely capabilities comparison of a static memory solution based on Memristor technology to the current solutions based on Flash. Flash has always had an inherent reliability problem – you could only write a relatively few number of times before it would stop working properly. There was a great deal of work in the flash space to try and hide that problem from the users of the technology.
It looks like a Taiwan-based company Macronix may have found a workaround that reduces the flash memory fadeout problem. They put a layer of tiny ‘heaters’ in the chip, move the data out of the way every once in a while and cook that portion of the chip back to its native state. They claim to allow for 100 Million Write cycles.
The team is going to present their findings next week at the: IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) in San Francisco. The technique doesn’t get around flashes relatively slow response and large size compared to other more advanced static memory approaches that are on the way, but it should allow the technology to be competitive longer (depending on how long it takes to move into production).
Their presentation is titled: Radically Extending the Cycling Endurance of Flash Memory (to > 100M Cycles) by Using Built-in Thermal Annealing to Self-heal the Stress-Induced Damage. The authors are H.-T. Lue, P.-Y. Du, C.-P. Chen, W.-C. Chen, C.-C. Hsieh, Y.-H. Hsiao, Y.-H. Shih, and C.-Y. Lu.