Developments in memory research could see an end to computer reboots and offer a faster alternative to hard drives and Ram.
Scientists at the Texas Centre for Superconductivity and Advanced Materials, at the University of Houston, have developed a thin film memory technology based on a material called perovskite, which uses resistor logic rather than traditional transistor logic.
The resistors can be electrically programmed to alter the passage of electricity through them, a function allowing them to hold digital code.
Electronics firm Sharp has already licensed the 'nonvolatile' or nonmechanical technology for use in a variety of memory enabled devices. Hard disks and Ram memory sticks could be replaced by a single unit of nonvolatile memory.
PCs currently rely on Ram, which is fast access memory used to process immediate data that is lost when the power is off, and magnetic mass memory used in hard disks, which is slow to access.
This next generation memory could also be up to 1,000 times faster than flash memory, the speediest current offering, which itself is nonmechanical.
"It is a constant, permanent memory, and it's all electronic, with no mechanical parts like those used in hard drives to read and store data," said Alex Ignatiev, director of the research centre.
In the event of a computer crash or power loss, work could be picked up immediately from where it was interrupted.
And because it's cheaper to produce, next generation memory could bring down the price of PCs.
Commercial availability of the chips is expected by 2005.
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