To increase the memory chip capacity by 1,000 times, is super storage technology coming?
Recently, the Ministry of Technology and Information of South Korea announced that the research team led by Professor Li Junxi from the UNIST School of Energy and Chemical Engineering in the country has proposed a new physical phenomenon that uses FRAM (ferroelectric memory) technology to replace the current mainstream DRAM or NAND Flash memory is expected to increase the storage capacity of a nail-sized memory chip by 1,000 times.
According to Li Junxi, FRAM technology stores information through polarization, in which electric dipoles (such as the NS magnetic field inside a ferroelectric) are aligned by an external electric field. By applying a voltage of 3-4V to the ferroelectric substance hafnium oxide (HfO2), the force between the atoms can be broken, and each atom can move freely, so that four individual atoms can be controlled to store 1-bit data. Existing storage technology research shows that only one bit of data can be stored in groups of thousands of atoms at most. In contrast, it can be found that through FRAM technology, the storage capacity of semiconductor memory can reach 500 Tbit/cm2, which is 1000 times that of currently available flash memory chips. In theory, the line width can also be reduced to 0.5 nanometers.
FRAM technology is not far away
On July 2, 2020, “Science” magazine has published this revolutionary research.
According to Professor Li Junxi, “The technology that stores information in atoms has a high probability of becoming the ultimate storage technology of the semiconductor industry without splitting the atoms.” Although it is still in the laboratory stage, this research has also been widely accepted. The industry is optimistic. The biggest reason is that FRAM is an existing semiconductor material, and it is considered that the possibility of commercialization is very high.
So what exactly is FRAM? According to the data, FRAM is the abbreviation of “baiferromagnetic random access memory”, that is, “ferroelectric random access memory”.
The principle of FRAM for data storage is to use the ferroelectric effect of ferroelectric crystals. “Ferroelectric effect” means that when a certain electric field is applied to the ferroelectric crystal, the central atoms of the crystal move under the action of the electric field and reach a stable state. . When the electric field is removed from the crystal, the central atom remains in its original position.
Because the middle layer of the crystal is a high energy level, the central atom cannot cross the high energy level to reach another stable position without obtaining external energy. Therefore, FRAM does not need voltage to maintain data and does not need to be periodically refreshed like DRAM. In addition, a major advantage of FRAM memory is that its content will not be affected by external conditions (such as magnetic fields and other factors), because the “ferroelectric effect” is a polarization characteristic inherent in ferroelectric crystals and has nothing to do with electromagnetic effects. FRAM memory also has non-volatile storage characteristics, and non-volatile storage also includes: 1. Programmable read-only memory PROM; 2. Electrically erasable programmable read-only memory EEPROM; 3. Erasable and programmable Read-only memory EPROM; 4. Electrically rewriteable read-only memory EAROM; 5. Flash memory.
Picture from OFweek Veken
Future applications of super storage technology
With the increase in market demand, users have also put forward higher requirements for the access performance, storage protocols, management platforms, storage media, and various other application configurations of enterprise-level storage systems. Especially companies with cloud computing and big data as their main business, usher in more choices in storage chips, equipment, systems, etc.
Under this background, super storage technology came into being. Unlike traditional flash memory or dynamic random access memory, super storage technology is more used in mobile computing, aerospace, military applications, enterprise systems, the automotive industry, and the Internet of Things. And the industrial market, etc. The most common mobile devices that use super storage technology are also expected to reach T-level data capacity, which may be able to hold hundreds of movies or millions of music.
Of course, super storage technology is not just a simple data expansion, but also involves storage and data disaster recovery, virtualization, data protection, data security (encryption), data compression, data deduplication, thin provisioning and other functional features. These functions The improvement and optimization of the storage system require a lot of energy resources. How to achieve low power consumption and multi-function storage product research and development while meeting the needs of ultra-large storage is also an important development direction for the storage industry in the future.