Researchers Improve Flash Memory Reliability By Applying 800C Heat

Taiwanese researchers have claimed to have developed a method of improving the reliability of flash memory by briefly exposing it to a jolt of 800 centigrade heat.

Flash is widely used in a number of electronic devices, but its reliability suffers significantly after around 10,000 read and write cycles.

By using heat, a team at electronics firm Macronix were able to improve this to at least 100 million cycles, although the true number is unknown because of the amount of time it would take to find the upper limit.

Flash memory reliability

Heat has long been recognised as a way to repair degraded materials in old flash memory, but involved heating a memory chip in an oven at 250 centigrade temperatures for hours, a solution that was widely seen as impractical.

Macronix have instead redesigned the chips in order to place a heater alongside the memory. This heater applies a jolt of heat to small groups of memory cells, restoring damaged locations.

The researchers said that the redesigned chip was safe because only small areas were being heated for a very short time, and that there should be no significant impact on battery life as the heaters consumed a small amount of power.

They will announce their findings in a report that is due to be presented at the International Electron Devices Meeting 2012. Macronix has said that it plans to implement the researcher’s ideas, but it has given no indication as to when the technology will become available.

Flash memory is favoured by many electronics manufacturers due to the fast read and write speed possible with this technology, and companies like Sony are now offering flash memory cards with write speeds as high as 125 Mbps.

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Steve McCaskill

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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