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Spanish scientists develop 'revolutionary' data storage technology

23 November 2012

University of Granada researchers have developed what they describe as a revolutionary data storage device in collaboration with the CEA-LETI lab at Grenoble (France).

The University of Granada researchers Noel Rodriguez (left) and Francisco Gamiz (right), with a CEA-LETI-based memory composed of A2RAM memory cells

The researchers at the University of Granada Nanoelectronics Lab, Noel Rodríguez and Francisco Gámiz, have designed an Advanced Random Access Memory (A-RAM), a theoretical model of which was developed by the research team in 2009. Now, the CEA-LETI lab has produced a device that experimentally confirms the results previously obtained in theoretical studies.

University of Granada researchers have demonstrated that the memory cell structure of their A-RAM and its variant, A2RAM, can solve the miniaturisation challenges posed by dynamic random access memory (DRAM) cells. These cell arrays are composed of a transistor and a capacitor; each bit of information is stored as an electric charge in a cell comprising these components, which provide access to the charge and, consequently, to the data.

Since its development, the DRAM concept has remained unchanged. Currently, DRAM cells are less than 20nm in size and DRAM memory chips are capable of storing several gigabytes of data. However, the possibilities of making these cells smaller are becoming exhausted due to the minimum charge needed to clearly distinguish between the two states of a bit (1 or 0).

This dictates a minimum size for the capacitors. The researchers say that if it is not possible reduce the size of the capacitor, the solution is to replace it with '1T-DRAM' memory cells - one-transistor memories - that store information directly in the transistor, which simultaneously detects the state of the cells and provides access to the stored information.

The invention is protected with ten international patents including Japan, USA, Korea and the European Union. Companies such as Samsung and Hynix (Korea) and Micron (USA) have shown interest in this data storage device.


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