New computer memory that’s faster, greener

London: US researchers are busy developing a new form of computing memory that is faster, more user-friendly and greener.

Currently, computers rely on two distinct forms of memory: volatile and non-volatile.

Volatile memory refers to random access memory (RAM), which stores data in such a way that it can be read and written rapidly but loses it when the power is switched off.

Non-volatile memory refers to flash drives, USB dongles and MP3 players that can retain information for long periods without power.

The new memory created by Dr Paul Franzon and his team combines the speed of DRAM while being able to switch to a more persistent mode of storage.

This would enable instant boot-up because the information required to start up the machine could be stored in fast memory. It could also lead to servers that can be powered down, when not in use.

The device called a double floating-gate field effect transistor - stores data in the form of a charge, like non-volatile memory but uses a special control gate to enable the stored data to be accessed quickly.

"We realised that a second gate would allow us to transfer charges really quickly," a news channel quoted Franzon as saying.

His team have shown they can transfer charges - in effect change the data - in around 15 nanoseconds.

"That’s comparable with DRAM speeds," he added.

When in non-volatile mode, the data will be stored safely for a couple of years.