Taiwanese engineers beat flash memory’s limits

Engineers have developed a process that can extend the life of flash memory from 10,000 cycles to 100 million cycles

Macronix develops improved process for self-healing flash memory. Photo from Macronix.com

MANILA, Philippines – Flash memory may provide useful storage for users of various gadgets, but it suffers from the limitations of its program/erase cycles (P/E cycles).

According to reports from IEEE Spectrum and Phys.org, however, engineers from Taiwanese memory-maker Macronix have managed to break through the P/E cycle limit through a self-healing flash memory process. 

Currently, flash memory has a limit of around 10,000 P/E cycles before wearing out. The solution devised by Macronix can supposedly extend the fadeout limit to approximately 100 million cycles.

While heat was previously known to have healing properties on flash memory, it was deemed impractical as the memory would need a few hours of heating at 250 degrees Celsius to complete the process.

The solution Macronix found was to redesign a flash memory chip with onboard heaters to heat up and heal small groups of memory cells. The healing process can be done when the device with the memory chip is connected to a power source, and can be conducted on smaller sectors infrequently so as to not drain the battery or impact battery life severely.

While a commercial application is not going to be immediate, the approach their engineers took will be presented at the IEEE International Electonic Devices Meeting that will be held on December 10 to 12 in San Francisco. – Rappler.com