More than Moore

A technology would help double a chip's memory in nine months

Published: Friday 31 October 1997

computer processing speeds will increase at a faster rate than earlier thought. Intel Corporation, the us based company, has invented a way that would double disk-drive capacity every nine months or even faster. The breakthrough has gone beyond the observations made by Gorden Moore, a semiconductor engineer that chips tend to double in performance every 18 months.

Disk-drive engineers have modified basic physics of chip design that had earlier been thought impossible. In conventional semiconductor memory chips, the ones and zeros of digital computer code are stored as tiny electrical charges. With the help of these codes, the circuit of a chip determines whether a charge is present or absent in transistors. In other words, the circuits find out whether the glass is empty or full.

However, apart from reading the ones and zeros, the new technology called Multilevel cell flash memory allows the circuit to find out whether the glass is two-third full or one-third full. The technology helps store two bits of data in a transistor as against one bit of data generally stored. Engineers at Intel say that it may soon be possible to store more bits in a transistor.

According to the company, one version of the new chip would be introduced in the market by first quarter of 1998. The 64-megabit version of the chip would be priced at nearly us $29.90, whereas the 32-megabit chip would cost us $15.40. The chips would not only help computers, but could also be used in watches, televisions, automobiles and other chip based products.

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