IBM, Infineon advance magnetic-memory prototype

Magnetic random access memory (MRAM) is a prototype 16-megabit memory from IBM and Infineon. This new memory relies on magnetism and not an electrical charge to store data. This is only one of the few different ideas for memory we'll be seeing as the year goes on.

IBM and German memory maker Infineon unveiled a prototype 16-megabit magnetic-memory chip this week as the struggle to establish new standards of memory rolls on.

The two companies presented the MRAM, or magnetic random access memory, chip at the Very Large Scale Integration Circuits Symposium in Hawaii on Wednesday. Unlike today's mainstream computer memory, MRAM relies on magnetism rather than an electrical charge to store data. MRAM could significantly advance the state of memory technology, at least according to proponents. Like flash memory, MRAM continues to store data even after its host computer is turned off. It also retrieves data rapidly and can theoretically last forever.

Last June, at the same conference, IBM and Infineon published a paper describing how the companies produced an MRAM chip on the 180-nanometer manufacturing process that held 128 kilobits of data. At the time, the two companies promised to more fully demonstrate MRAM in early 2004 and predicted that MRAM could go into commercial production by 2005. That deadline, however, has become a tad amorphous. In announcing its prototype, Infineon said MRAM could potentially enter many segments of the memory market "in a few years."

News source: C|Net News.com

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