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December 4, 2012

Macronix researchers find new way to extend life of flash memory

The researchers applied 800 degrees Centigrade of heat to groups of memory cells for a few milliseconds

By CBR Staff Writer

Researchers at Taiwanese electronics company Macronix have found a new method through which longevity of NAND flash memory can be extented to over 100 million programmed and erased cycles by applying 800°C heat.

The researchers claimed that by applying 800°C of heat to groups of memory cells for a few milliseconds can bring back a damaged flash drive to working order.

The researchers said current flash memory materials can achieve 10,000 programmed and erased cycles before reliability starts to suffer.

Hang-Ting Lue, a project deputy director at Macronix was quoted by IEEE Spectrum as saying that "We do not know what would eventually cause the device to fail, since we have not seen the end-of-life signals yet."

According to IEEE Spectrum, the heating process enabled faster erasing, something that was thought to be independent of temperature and may result in flash taking over from dynamic RAM.

"Further down, this may evolve into a ‘thermally assisted’ mode of operation that gives both better performance, such as the faster erasing and better endurance flash memory," Lue told IEEE Spectrum.

"Flash is not a random access memory, and the architecture will need to be completely different," Lue said. ?

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Lue says the refreshing does require a substantial amount of power but the annealing can be done infrequently and one sector at a time, while the device is inactive but still connected to the power source

Lue told IEEE Spectrum Macronix aims to capitalise on the self-healing flash breakthrough, but he would not give details about how and when.

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