Toshiba develops higher-bandwidth FeRAM

New FeRAM can send and receive data at eight times the speed of its previous prototype

Toshiba has developed a higher-capacity version of its FeRAM (Ferroelectric RAM) memory that can send and receive data at eight times the speed of its previously detailed prototype.

FeRAM is a relatively new type of memory that combines the speed of DRAM chips, which are most commonly used as the main memory in computers, and the ability to retain data while power is off like flash memory chips used in cell phones, cameras, and other gadgets. It's been under development for years but has yet to see wide-scale production.

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The new chip, which will be detailed at this week's International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco, has a capacity of 16MB and a read/write speed of 1.6GB per second. Toshiba last detailed its FeRAM progress in 2006 when it had a 4MB chip that managed 200MBps data transfer.

The chip to be detailed at ISSCC this week is the latest in a series of prototypes from the company, which is working toward a possible commercialization of the technology. The company has no concrete plans to begin mass producing the chips and says price remains one of the biggest obstacles.

Target applications include on-chip cache memory in semiconductors. While it supports fast read and write and can keep its contents even when powered off the overall capacity of the chip, at 16MB, is much lower than a conventional flash memory chip.