Breakthrough: Instant Computer Memory

I.B.M. has solved two related problems with phase-change memory and now says the next-generation data-storage technology will be ready for use in 2016 in servers.

What's the Latest Development?


Research into phase-change technology has yielded a computer chip that is 100 times more powerful than the current flash memory used in most computers and servers. Whereas consumer electronics prioritize the cost per bit ratio, the new chip would primarily target the server market where speed is paramount. "Our main application, being in the server business, is enterprise storage and memory applications," says I.B.M.'s Haris Pozidis. "Phase-change memory records data through heat changes in the electrical properties of a tiny patch of the glasslike chalcogenide material."

What's the Big Idea?

Phase-change research is, by now, decades old, but recent advances indicate it may be a promising avenue in which to pursue further technological innovation. "I.B.M.'s phase-change memory (P.C.M.) technology isn't yet ready for real-world use, but the improvements in multilevel storage and drift tolerance means the technology should be competitive in 2016 for the server applications I.B.M. has in mind." The technology, however, is making gains in other markets with different requirements, like Samsung mobile phones, which uses P.C.M. instead of flash memory.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less
Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world.

Keep reading Show less

The culprit of increased depression among teens? Smartphones, new research suggests.

A new study, led by psychologist Jean Twenge, points to the screen as the problem.

A teenager eyes her smartphone as people enjoy a warm day on the day of silence, one day prior to the presidential elections, when candidates and political parties are not allowed to voice their political meaning on April 14, 2018 in Kotor, Montenegro. Citizens from Montenegro, the youngest NATO member, will vote for a new president on Sunday 15 2018. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
Surprising Science
  • In a new study, adolescents and young adults are experiencing increased rates of depression and suicide attempts.
  • The data cover the years 2005–2017, tracking perfectly with the introduction of the iPhone and widespread dissemination of smartphones.
  • Interestingly, the highest increase in depressive incidents was among individuals in the top income bracket.
Keep reading Show less

U.S. reacts to New Zealand's gun ban

On Thursday, New Zealand moved to ban an array of semi-automatic guns and firearms components following a mass shooting that killed 50 people.

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Gun control supporters are pointing to the ban as an example of swift, decisive action that the U.S. desperately needs.
  • Others note the inherent differences between the two nations, arguing that it is a good thing that it is relatively hard to pass such legislation in such a short timeframe.
  • The ban will surely shape future conversations about gun control in the U.S.
Keep reading Show less