Chip technology that breaks Moore's law

on Thursday, July 17, 2008

Array-based memory is an evolving solid-state storage technology similar to flash memory but with potentially greater storage capacity. The increased capacity results from the fact that array-based memory is three-dimensional (3D) while most traditional memory and storage media are two-dimensional (2D).

The array-based memory chip employs microscopic probes to read and write the data. Each probe occupies a physical volume with a radius of a few nanometers (nm), where 1 nm = 10-9 m. Engineers at Nanochip, Inc., one of the companies leading the effort to develop array-based memory chips, have built probes with 25 nm radius. They hope to eventually shrink the probes to 2 nm or less in radius, providing storage capacity in excess of 1 terabyte (TB) per chip. The ultimate goal is to develop probes that can transfer data to and from individual atoms in a semiconductor material.

The first array-based memory chips are expected to become available in 2010 with a storage capacity of up to 100 gigabytes (GB) per chip. Potential applications are similar to those of current USB flash drives and solid-state hard drives.