Universal Memory The ‘Holy Grail Of Memory’ Which Can Replace DRAM And Flash Memory

Scientists patent energy saving ‘holy grail’ of computing

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Universal Memory The'Holy Grail Of Memory' Which Can Replace DRAM And Flash Memory

Universal Memory The ‘Holy Grail Of Memory’ Which Can Replace DRAM And Flash Memory

The new memory device has already caught the attention of many different leading companies, promising to replace the $100bn market for Dynamic Random Access Memory. A new type of computer memory which could solve the digital technology energy crisis has been invented and patented by Lancaster scientists.

The electronic memory device described in research published in Scientific Reports promises to transform daily life with its ultra-low energy consumption.

Universal memory is a computer data storage technology that until now has been purely conceptual, combining the speed and low cost of dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) and the stability of flash memory. This also would result in significantly lower power consumption.

In the home, energy savings from efficient lighting and appliances have been completely wiped out by increased use of computers and gadgets, and by 2025 a ‘tsunami of data’ is expected to consume a fifth of global electricity.

But this new device would immediately reduce peak power consumption in data centres by a fifth. It would also allow, for example, computers which do not need to boot up and could instantaneously and imperceptibly go into an energy-saving sleep mode – even between key stokes. The device is the realization of the search for a “Universal Memory” which has preoccupied scientists and engineers for decades.

Physics Professor Manus Hayne of Lancaster University said: “Universal Memory, which has robustly stored data that is easily changed, is widely considered to be unfeasible, or even impossible, but this device demonstrates its contradictory properties.”

The scientists have found the solution in quantum mechanics, allowing them to combine highly stable data storage with low energy, fast writing and erasing of data.

“The ideal is to combine the advantages of both [DRAM and flash memory] without their drawbacks, and this is what we have demonstrated. Our device has an intrinsic data storage time that is predicted to exceed the age of the Universe, yet it can record or delete data using 100 times less energy than DRAM.”

Dramatic power savings from universal memory

The electronic memory device has the potential to replace DRAM entirely in the computing industry representing the most widely used type of memory found in computing.

As a result, its implication for the power consumption of electronics which climbs each year as the number of devices proliferates is significant.

If it were used in all of the world’s data centres, for example, it would drive peak power consumption by a fifth.

On consumer devices, it would translate into machines that never need to be booted up, and could instantly switch to sleep mode to save energy without users noticing for periods as short as the gap between keystrokes.

The research was published few days in the journal Scientific Reports.

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