In a breakthrough that could someday supercharge the creation of new mobile devices a Motorolaspinoff company has announced a new kind of magnetic memory chip.
Earlier this month previously unknown chip maker Freescale announced the commercial availability of the megabit magnetoresistive RAM chip or MRAM which features the best qualities of current memory chips without their drawbacks.
Rather than use electrical charges to store information MRAM chip uses a magnetic field.
Typical PC RAM is fast but tends to be powerhungry and loses data when the power is off. Flash memory which is commonly used in mobile devices like digital cameras and cell phones keeps data when the device is off but is slow. The new MRAM however is expected to be both fast and keep its data when the power is switches off. That's why why some of its proponents call it the "Universal Chip."
If all goes as expected MRAM could replace today's RAM in PCs and eventually microhard drives in mobile devices. When used in PCs it could enable them to boot up right away.
"This is definitely a revolutionary breakthrough for the memory market" said Nicole d'Onofrio an analyst with technology research firm Current Analysis. "It has the speed of static RAM and the nonvolatility of Flash memory."
She noted that MRAM just entering the market hasn't yet reached its speed potential. But eventually she said MRAM could outperform current chips and be a popular choice among PC and mobile device makers. That could mean big business. Worldwide sales for flash memory chips alone were about $ billion in the first quarter.
Freescale said it has been working on the technology for more than a decade as have other companies. In about months the company based in Texas and Arizona is planning to move MRAMs into consumer electronics cars and more.