Korean electronics manufacturer Samsung has produced a working prototype of a new type of memory called PRAM that is as fast as ordinary RAM, but it doesn’t lose its contents when powered off. It works like Flash memory, but it doesn’t have to erase a cell’s contents before writing to it, which boosts its speed thirtyfold over Flash. Its cell size is half as big and it requires 20% fewer steps to produce in manufacturing than Flash, so it’s cheaper and smaller, and lasts 10 times longer.
This is exactly the kind of revolution we’ve been waiting for in computer systems. We’ll look back on the days when transient memory that lost its contents when turned off was the stone age of computing.Â Powering off your computer will no longer be the time-consuming process it once was, and hibernation will be instantaneous. Power failure will no longer be a catastrophic event. Booting a computer will no longer be the five-minute coffee-break event it once was – simply turning it back on will return it to where it was when you shut it off.
It is expected to be in mainstream use within the next decade. I’m not sure I can wait that long.