Q

Spin-transfer torque memory properties and benefits

How does STT-RAM differ from flash memory chips? Marc Staimer takes a closer look.

What is spin-transfer torque memory technology and what is it designed to address that current flash memory chips

can't?

Spin-transfer torque memory technology leverages a concept that electrons or other particles have a "known" property of angular momentum referred to as "spin," which is one of two types of quantum mechanics angular momentum. The other type of spin is called orbital angular momentum.

Spin-transfer torque memory technology utilizes electric current through a magnetic field to change the electron spin to an up or down state. Spin-transfer torque memory technology is also known as STT-RAM. STT-RAM has the potential to be a higher-density, lower-cost, lower-power non-volatile storage option than flash. STT-RAM also is not a destructive technology like flash and does not have flash's wear-life issues.

But, like many of the developing non-volatile storage technologies such as phase change memory (PCM), Racetrack, memristor, MRAM, MeRAM, and others, it is not yet ready for prime time. STT-RAM currently requires a bit too much electrical current to re-orient the spin. That's changing rapidly, but it is not a commercially available technology at this time.

More on this topic:

Martin: Future nonvolatile memory technologies
In this segment of his Storage Decisions presentation, Dennis Martin of Demartek discusses future nonvolatile memory technologies.

Q&A: IBM's Haris Pozidis on phase-change memory
Phase-change memory (PCM) is an emerging type of non-volatile random access memory. Haris Pozidis of IBM discusses PCM in this Q&A.

Enterprise-class phase-change memory on the way, but roadblocks remain
Phase-change memory (PCM) is an emerging class of NVRAM with promising characteristics. Enterprise-class chips are expected within the next few years.

MRAM technology likely choice as post-flash solid-state storage
NAND flash-based storage is becoming a common alternative, but NAND flash could soon be replaced by newer forms of non-volatile memory like MRAM technology.

Will memristor technology be a successor to NAND flash?
Leah Schoeb, senior partner with Evaluator Group, discusses whether memristor technology might be a successor to NAND flash in this Expert Answer.

IBM’s racetrack memory: 1,250x increase in storage density promised
IBM promises 1,250 times the storage density at the same cost per gigabyte as disk with its racetrack memory. But difficult choices lie ahead for IBM if it works.

This was first published in June 2014

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