Storage technology had remained stationary for many years until flash storage became cheap, fast and reliable enough to be used in large quantity in SSDs and mobile devices bringing performance to another level.
Now, IBM comes to take it to the next level by introducing a new (well kinda) technology that could replace flash storage and DRAM. PCM has been used in optical disks and other technology for over 15-years and it had been considered too expensive to consider using in mobile devices such as a smartphone. But now IBM has managed to reduce the production cost and also devised a method to save 3-bits of data per cell even in higher ambient temperatures. The technology uses electric current to write and read data from amorphous glass.
The main advantage of PCM is that it does not lose data when it is powered off. PCM and flash could be teamed up to produce a lightening fast cache. As an example, IBM says that a smartphone’s operating system could be stored in PCM, allowing a device to boot-up in seconds.
This is a major breakthrough, as SoCs are becoming more and more powerful and the storage speed is close to becoming a bottleneck for performance. It seems that the time when we will be using one device for all purposes is not as far as we thought. Below you can see Dr. Haris Pozidis of IBM explaining the technology behind PCM.