Look out silicon and magnetic storage, here comes glass. Micron has announced production of the first commercial cellphone phase-change memory (PCM) modules, a type of flash RAM that works by changing a crystal solid to an amorphous state. The 1Gb chips will share a circuit board with 512Mb of standard volatile memory, just enough to go in feature phones for now — but the company claims it will eventually offer larger modules for smartphone and tablet storage as well. PCM could scale to much faster speeds than conventional NAND flash, since it doesn’t require a time-sapping erase before rewriting — and with read speeds of 400MB/s, it’s already into regular flash territory while still just a first generation product. Once the tech gets even quicker, PCM could even replace volatile RAM, allowing more secure storage in case of a power loss and reducing device costs and power usage. That means the glassy new kid could eventually bump silicon-based storage altogether — ending its 40-year plus reign as king of the memory substrates. To see some of the ways it trumps NAND, check the video after the break.
Filed under: Storage