Hardware Investigate

Phase Change Technology and the Future of Main Memory

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Executive Summary

Over the past few decades, memory technology scaling has provided many benefits, including increased density and capacity and reduced cost. Scaling has provided these benefits for conventional technologies, such as DRAM and flash memory, but now scaling is in jeopardy. For continued scaling, systems might need to transition from conventional charge memory to emerging resistive memory. Charge memories require discrete amounts of charge to induce a voltage, which is detected during reads. In the nonvolatile space, flash memories must precisely control the discrete charge placed on a floating gate. In volatile main memory, DRAM must not only place charge in a storage capacitor but also mitigate sub-threshold charge leakage through the access device.

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