Think your solid state drive is fast? It has nothing on MRAM

mram speed 100000 header
IBM scientist Janusz Nowak IBM
Experts have been saying DRAM is on its last legs for some time. Looking at the recent exploits of IBM Research and Samsung we could start seeing its replacement soon. Last week, the two companies published a paper detailing the next generation of MRAM meant to replace today’s common NAND-based memory.

MRAM is short for Magnetoresistive Random Access Memory. It’s a semiconductor type of memory that stores data using magnetic spinning. NAND, on the other hand, is the flash memory commonly found in our everyday wearable and mobile devices. According to the researchers, the most recent MRAM drastically improves memory performance. If it reaches the consumer devices it equals more storage, better speed, and improved battery life.

The two companies are using a technique called spin-transfer torque to build the circuits used for their memory. It’s created with 11-nanometer production technology and uses but 7.5 microampere worth of electricity. Daniel Worledge, a scientist and MRAM team senior manager at IBM Research, says that it’s 100,000 times faster than writing data in NAND-flash, and requires no more than 10 nanoseconds. Reading data isn’t as huge an improvement, but still bolsters an impressive improvement, being 10,000 times faster than conventional memory.

To be clear here, the idea here isn’t to replace DRAM but flash memory. As you may have noticed, the benefits of using the technology are big, but it’s not limited to improving the speed. The technology has unlimited read and write cycles as well as inherent non-volatility. That means the memory remembers the data stored in it despite turning it off and on again.

MRAM_info

“With these capabilities a single MRAM chip can replace a combination of SRAM and flash for many ultra-low power, medium performance mobile and Internet of Things applications,” says Worledge. “However, our long term goal remains to scale Spin Torque MRAM to be so dense and fast it can be used as a cache memory in IBM’s servers.” As an effect of these benefits, data wouldn’t need to be deleted before being rewritten.

Manufacturers have had their eyes on this technology for some time, but up until recently it simply wasn’t so efficient as to provide enough incentive for more companies to invest in the research. That’s why it’s a big deal that they’ve finally reached a point where they think there’s now enough incentive to turn the situation around. At their current level of progress they can switch MRAM cells in devices with diameters ranging from 11 to 50nm in only 10 nanoseconds, which they call “a significant achievement.”

MRAM isn’t the only new memory technology on the block, however. Intel last year revealed 3D XPoint, a non-volatile memory option that could nearly meet DRAM speeds. Its performance is not as impressive as what MRAM touts, but Intel’s much closer to production. Drivers are expected to become available late in 2016.

IBM hopes to, together with an industry partner, get mass production rolling in three years. However, whether that partner ends up being Samsung, or another company, is unclear.

Gaming

Spawn creator suggests the antihero could appear in ‘Mortal Kombat 11’

Spawn creator Todd McFarlane hinted that the comic book antihero could join the cast of Mortal Kombat 11 during a Reddit AMA. Spawn previously appeared in SoulCalibur II on the original Xbox.
Gaming

How do Nintendo Switch, Xbox One X compare to each other? We find out

The Nintendo Switch is innovative enough to stand apart from traditional consoles, but could it become your primary gaming system? How does the Switch stack up against the Xbox One?
Computing

Email take-backsies! Gmail's unsend feature is one of its best

Everyone has sent a message they wish they could take back. How great would it be if you could undo that impulsive email? If you're a Gmail user, you can. Here's how to recall an email in Gmail.
Computing

Ryzen 3000 CPUs could be the most powerful ever. Here's what we know

AMD's upcoming Ryzen 3000 generation of CPUs could be the most powerful processors we've ever seen, with higher core counts, greater clock speeds, and competitive pricing. Here's what we know so far.
Computing

Go hands-free in Windows 10 with speech-to-text support

Looking for the dictation, speech-to-text, and voice control options in Windows 10? Here's how to set up Speech Recognition in Windows 10 and use it to go hands-free in a variety of different tasks and applications within Windows.
Computing

Windows Update not working after October 2018 patch? Here’s how to fix it

Windows update not working? It's a more common problem than you might think. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot it and in this guide we'll break them down for you step by step.
Computing

Microsoft could split up search and Cortana in the next Windows 10 release

In the latest Insider preview build, Microsoft is exploring ways to split up Cortana and search on Windows 10. If Microsoft moves ahead with this change, we could see separate search and Cortana options in the Spring 2019 Update.
Computing

Mining cryptocurrency for Razer Silver isn’t worth your computing power

Gaming peripheral maker Razer launched a cryptocurrency mining scheme called SoftMiner. You use its software to mine and in return, you get Razer Silver which you can use to buy Razer gear.
Computing

Microsoft’s latest patent paves the way for Andromeda dual-screen mobile device

The latest patent discovery from Microsoft showcases a new hinge design for quickly opening a dual-screen mobile device with a single hand. Could this be additional proof surrounding the rumors of the company's Project Andromeda device?
Computing

Heal your wrist aches and pains with one of these top ergonomic mice

If you have a growing ache in your wrist, it might be worth considering changing up your mouse for something ergonomic. But which is the best ergonomic mouse for you? One of these could be the ticket to the right purchase for you.
Computing

Nvidia’s Jetson AGX Xavier module is designed to give robots better brains

Nvidia's pricey Jetson AGX Xavier might help drive the next generation of smart robots. Nvidia hopes that developers will use its new Xavier module to power AI-driven machines like delivery drones and robots used in manufacturing.
Computing

These Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts will update your OG Windows skills

Windows 10 has many new features, and they come flanked with useful new keyboard shortcuts. Check out some of the new Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts to improve your user experience and save more time!
Computing

Leaked AMD Ryzen 3000 mobile benchmarks look fit for thin, low-power laptops

AMD is poised to give Intel a run for its money in the ultra-low-power processor space for laptops. Leaked benchmarks for the Ryzen 3000 APU series show the AMD processor besting Intel's Core i7 Y series in multicore performance.
Mobile

Apple is spending $1 billion to hire up to 15,000 new employees in Austin

Apple has announced a series of expansions across the U.S. -- including a massive expansion to the company's Austin campus that will see it spending $1 billion to accommodate for up to 15,000 new employees.