New Memory Could Eliminate Boot Times For Good

Boot time is still a quoted figure when talking about operating systems. Researchers at the Texas Center for Superconductivity and Advanced Materials have made a new breakthrough in non-volatile memory that could make that measurement moot. Memory chips based on this new process could retain the state of your operating system while your computer is shut off so it is available instantly after itis powered up, instead of loading it from a hard drive.

A NewsFactor article explains the difference between traditional and nonvolatile RAM. From the article:

The new thin-film technology ... is based on resistor logic rather than the traditional transistor logic used in most PCs and other memory-enabled devices. It also is considerably faster than current memory systems and holds the promise of reducing the time required to transfer and download multimedia content and other massive files.

The article goes on to suggest that the technology could replace the mechanical hard drive entirely.

"Unlike the memory used in most computers, ours is nonvolatile, or nonmechanical," said Alex Ignatiev, one of the researchers who created the new technology. Ignatiev is director of the Texas Center for Superconductivity and Advanced Materials at the University of Houston.

PCs now use two kinds of memory: random access memory, or RAM, and magnetic mass memory. RAM is used to run programs, open files and process data. "But when the power is turned off, the information is gone," Ignatiev told NewsFactor.

Most computer hard drives use magnetic memory for storing data -- mechanical systems that operate slowly, Ignatiev said. The resistive random access memory technology could replace both drives.

This new development wonit take very long to see practical application. Sharp Electronics has recently licensed the new technology to allow them to begin work on creating the nonvolatile memory chips for a wide assortment of electronic products.

"This could be the next generation of mainstream computer memory," Sheng T. Hsu, director of integrated circuits technology at Sharp Laboratories of America, told NewsFactor. "It can be used in PCs, cell phones, networks -- anything that needs massive memory."

These chips are supposed to be available within three years and at a cheaper cost than traditional memory today.