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Purdue Researchers Demonstrate Low-Power, Fast FeTRAM Memory 50

Posted by timothy
from the there-is-no-university-of-purdue dept.
eldavojohn writes "Researchers at Purdue University's Birck Nanotechnology Center have released news of a proof of concept new ferroelectric transistor random access memory or 'FeTRAM.' This new technology is nonvolatile and the researchers claim it could use up to 99% less energy than current flash memory. Unlike most FeRAM technology that uses a capacitor, FeTRAM provides nondestructive readout by storing information using a ferroelectric transistor instead. From the article: 'The new technology also is compatible with industry manufacturing processes for complementary metal oxide semiconductors, or CMOS, used to produce computer chips. It has the potential to replace conventional memory systems.' So if they get this into production, you might not have to worry about your laptop cooking your genitals. They've been published in ACS (paywalled) and the professor leading the research has many patents filed relating to transistor nanotechnology."
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Purdue Researchers Demonstrate Low-Power, Fast FeTRAM Memory

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  • ...I am drawn to it ;)

  • ...that is an attractive solution ;)

  • The summary makes it sound like super miniaturized core memory. I'm sure it's more complex than that, but it's still pretty cool.
  • the processor is the main source of gonad grilling heat, RAM is about 103% of power consumption. the one in my laptop pulls 31W when it is busy

    • by iggymanz (596061)

      hah, fix that text edit box slashcode monkeys, wrote ram is one to three percent of power consumption but look what came out

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's there. It says "Preview".

      • This is looking to be more of a replacement for flash and other solid state memory so it would not be the RAM in your PC that's getting replaced, it would be the HDD which does consume a good amount of power. A more efficient system for accessing the data on your drive would in turn lower CPU power usage which would in turn reduce overall power consumption of a standard computer or laptop. This would also have implications to reduce the drain in things like MP3 players and cellphones thus prolonging the b
        • This is looking to be more of a replacement for flash and other solid state memory so it would not be the RAM in your PC that's getting replaced, it would be the HDD which does consume a good amount of power.

          From TFA:
          "They might also be much faster than another form of computer memory called SRAM"

          SRAM is the same stuff used in CPU memory caches.

          • might also be much faster

            Looks like they want some funding. You may recall the expression "pigs might fly".

          • SRAM is used in such small densities that its energy consumption is negligible. SRAM is indeed hugely inefficient and would likely be replaced with this type of memory should it become feasible, but I think GP was and I know I was speaking to DRAM which is what the majority of people speak of when they mention the RAM in their system. When was the last time you updated your SRAM?
            • SRAM is used in such small densities that its energy consumption is negligible. SRAM is indeed hugely inefficient and would likely be replaced with this type of memory should it become feasible, but I think GP was and I know I was speaking to DRAM which is what the majority of people speak of when they mention the RAM in their system. When was the last time you updated your SRAM?

              I was assuming the reader would understand my point.

              If it lives up to the hype:
              Faster than SRAM.
              Uses the same area of silicon as flash
              More power effecient
              Practically infinite cycle life
              Non volitile

              What on earth prevents it from replacing everything? SRAM, DRAM, disk drives?

              • What on earth prevents it from replacing everything? SRAM, DRAM, disk drives?

                Having worked in the semiconductor industry for over 10 years I can't dispute that this would be an acceptable replacement for all forms of memory inside of your system. However, I've seen several technologies (MRAM, FeRAM, RAMFlash) come and go that were touted as "the ultimate memory and storage technology" (URAM) that although were feasible, completely fizzled due to market and manufacturing concerns. DRAM is a mostly low profit industry where SRAM is a very high profit industry. Flash is a pretty stab

        • by Mr Z (6791)

          Don't confuse "power" with "energy". Power is energy consumed divided by the amount of time required to consume it. Power is in watts (joules/second), whereas energy is in straight joules. (Or other units that cancel out the time factor, such as kWh.)

          For example, I've noticed since I installed an SSD in my laptop that my automated backups run way more efficiently. Previously, with an HDD, the whole machine would slow to a crawl, and the computer spent most of its time waiting for disk seeks. Now, the

          • by WorBlux (1751716)
            Running the CPU at full speed and then dropping into idle is more efficient than running at half speed. Especially since intel processors are getting to the point you can just turn off the cores you don't need.
            • by Mr Z (6791)

              It is more energy efficient, especially if you can fully power off in idle and avoid wasting energy on transistor leakage.

              I'm just saying that the short term power consumption (measured in joules/second, aka. Watts), will be higher even if the total energy usage (total joules) is lower. If that "short term" is measured in 10s of seconds, then things still get hot enough to roast your chestnuts, so to speak.

              Some math: Suppose the CPU has to do a total of N joules of work(say, computing checksums and compre

  • Confusing muddle (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris.beau@org> on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @10:39AM (#37527076)

    Just the summary has me confused. Is this a RAM replacement or a FLASH replacement tech? Or both?

    I guess between green getting grant money and industry looking to lower their power bills pushing energy savings is mandatory, but I never though flash/ssd was a power hog anyway, so if it is a flash/hdd replacement that wouldn't be all that important. Now ram modules, especially high performance 'gamer' memory has heat sinks and gets plenty hot enough to matter. Especially in heavily loaded servers hosting a lot of virtuals, those puppies get loaded up on ram so I suspect would account for a fair chunk of the total power budget in a rack full.

    But I wouldn't throw venture capital at em just yet. Every few months it seems we see a story about a new memory tech. Some of them, MRAM for example, do eventually surface but they can't scale up enough to compete with conventional memory so have to settle for a niche where their special properties make them viable. Again, look at MRAM. You can buy the stuff and it really works. It is sold as a drop in replacement for old EEPROM and SRAM chips in the old DIP packages. Not only low power operation, it retains memory with the power off and no need for a backup battery. But a few Mbits per chip seems to be the current limit so it isn't a threat to either flash or dram unless it can scale up a thousand fold. Kinda like the old magnetic bubble memory that was always a few years away from making hard drives obsolete back in the '80s.... until hard drive capacity per dollar grew so much faster than bubble memory could hope to catch up to and R&D died out on it, leaving it but a footnote in tech history.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If you ask the Prof., it's the all singing, all dancing, (future) replacement for everything. And it'll do the dishes, and get you a date. However, reality: quoting from TFA: "However, our present device consumes more power because it is still not properly scaled," Das said. "For future generations of FeTRAM technologies one of the main objectives will be to reduce the power dissipation." So even the headline grabber "far less power" is "future devices". Yawn.

  • This http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memristor/ [wikipedia.org] is more interesting. But, which one are we going to see, first? I'd prefer to see HP's memristor dominate the memory, storage, and processor markets. But are we going to have to wait through some stage of planned obsolescence, first, while all these minor variations on existing components arrive and all companies seek to maximize profits on those before moving onto something that makes them all obsolete?

  • I looked into putting an SSD into my laptop, but the stories of short life (and getting shorter with each reduction in process size) are putting me off. Would this FeTRAM be more resilient?

    • The time no longer spent waiting on the slow magnetic HDD to find the data that you're looking for on the drive along with much faster boot-up, program launching, and doing 2-3 things at the same time all weigh heavily in favor of the SSD.

      Just keep good backups.

      (Most of the issues seem to be firmware or the cheap SSDs.)
      • Fair enough. My specific use case though (Macbook, 4 GB RAM, don't tend to reboot more often than software updates require) the main bottleneck is Firefox which fills up all available memory, then starts swapping. That, and waking from hibernation. Both involve large numbers of write cycles, so I'd burn though the available cycles in a relatively short time. An SSD would be fun to have, but not if it burns out in two years.

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