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IBM, Infineon tout magnetic memory

IBM and Infineon will jointly present a paper this week that demonstrates how Magnetic Random Access Memory, one of the leading candidates to replace flash memory in cell phones, could be ready for commercial production by 2005. Magnetic Random Access Memory (MRAM) combines technological principles from both the magnetic world--the basis for the hard-drive industry--and silicon manufacturing. In MRAM, a tiny magnetic field is created inside a memory cell on a chip. The computer then measures the electrical resistance exhibited by the magnetic field at any given moment to determine whether the cell should be read as a "1" or a "0," the binary building blocks of data.

Conventional flash memory, the mainstay for storing data on phones, also works by exhibiting different levels of electrical resistance, but it requires a considerable amount of electricity to switch between the "1" and "0" state. Ideally, MRAM will use less power and capture data faster than current flash memory.

While IBM has shown off MRAM circuits before, the data being released at the Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) Symposium taking place this week in Kyoto, Japan, shows that MRAM chips are amenable to mass manufacturing, said Randy Isaac, vice president of strategic alliances at IBM Technology. The chip described in the paper was made on the 180-nanometer process, which has been used in mass manufacturing since 1999, and holds 128 kilobits of data.

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News source: news.com

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