main obstacle preventing solid state hard drives (SSHD) for computers
is the fragility of the high-speed PCRAM structure. After about 10,000
read/write cycles the insulator in the storage cell is wasted. Engineers
knew that annealing the IC at high temperature for many
hours eliminates the problem, but the process would be prohibitively
expensive. In a stroke of collective genius, they tried effecting a
resistive element in each cell's gate region that could heat the
area to 800 °C for a few milliseconds, thereby annealing on demand.
It worked. Power consumption is kept to a minimum by selectively heating
only cells that exhibit degradation or that according to a logging record
are approaching their normal lifetime limit. Tests thus far have indicated
essentially unlimited lifetimes. Right now the memory time is that which
is used in Flash drives (aka thumb drives) and some personal electronics,
but the industry will soon be scheming to finally replace forever the
magnetic spinning HDDs we now use.
Posted January 2013