07. 18. 2006
Magnetic memory is on the block
I've left a busy seven days behind me, and I pulled a space cadet on the big news from Freescale. New forms of ultra fast computer data storage have been on the market in very limited quantities for the last couple of years. These specialty components have been little used due to the insanely high costs. Just last week Freescale announced that chip yields have been stabilzed, and the company will begin selling "magnetoresistive random-access memory" (MRAM) en masse. These chips use magnetic gates to store data, and can hold their memory in the absence of electricity. The usage would appear similar to blazingly fast Compact Flash, but the underlying technology is worlds apart.
There's an easy analogy to explain the practicalities behind chip yields and the resultant pricing. Microchips of all types are very tricky to make, and a lot of them get thrown away for manufacturing defects. It's a lot like trying to bake cookies, but burning half the batch every time. The big news is that Freescale has finally managed to develop a system that turns out a whole lotta cookies at once. Four megabyte chips are still priced at $25 so it'll be a little while before we start seeing super fast storage technology in our gadgetry.