Toshiba Makes Progress On Super Fast FeRAM

What would life be like if you had access to random access memory that coupled the fast operating characteristics of DRAM with flash memory's ability to retain data while powered off? Pretty darn amazing, we imagine. Believe it or not, such a contraption is already in the works, and it has been for quite some while. Today, Toshiba is announcing a breakthrough in the development of FeRAM, or Ferroelectric Random Access Memory, which could one day make our current memory modules and even SSDs look like antiquated pieces of technology.

At the International Solid-State Circuits Conference 2009 in San Francisco -- the same venue at which the PCMOS microchip was unveiled -- Toshiba is introducing a prototype FeRAM module that "redefines industry benchmarks for density and operating speed." The newfangled chip realizes storage of 128-megabits and read and write speeds of 1.6-gigabytes a second, and it relies on a modified version of the company's chainFeRAM architecture. With the revised architecture, it can prevent cell signal degradation from chip scaling; furthermore, there's a new circuit on board that can predict and control the fluctuations of power supply and support high-speed data transfers. There's also integration of the DDR2 interface to maximize data transfers at a high throughput at low power consumption, which has helped this version push performance to "eight times faster than the transfer rate and density of the previous records and the fastest speed of any non-volatile RAM."

Unfortunately, Toshiba isn't announcing availability. Rather, it's promising to continue R&D on FeRAM, aiming for "further capacity increases and eventual use in a wide range of applications, including the main memory of mobile phones, mobile consumer products, and cache memory applications in products such as mobile PCs and SSDs." The worst part of all of this is the wait -- we're given no indication of when FeRAM will be ready for mainstream consumption, and obviously, there's no hints as to just how expensive it will be. We think we speak for computing enthusiasts the world over when we say: "Please, Toshiba -- get this magical stuff out of the labs and into next-gen PCs on the double."

Tags:  RAM, Toshiba, DRAM, FeRAM