Heat said to 'cure' faulty flash memory

Dec. 3, 2012 at 7:01 PM
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TAIPEI, Taiwan, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- A brief exposure to very high temperature can "heal" flash memory and increase its usable life to many millions of read-write cycles, researchers in Taiwan say.

Flash memory, found in many computers and electronic gadgets for its speed and ability to hold data even when power is off, normally begins to suffer reliability problems at about 10,000 read and write cycles.

While computer scientists have long known heat can restore the reliability of flash memory, baking them in an oven for hours at 480 degrees Fahrenheit was never seen as a practical solution.

Now scientists at electronics company Macronix say they've designed chips with a built-in heater next to the memory materials, the BBC reported Monday.

Briefly heating those materials to about 1,400 degrees F brought the damaged memory back to working order, they said.

Only tiny areas were being heated and only for only a few milliseconds, researchers said, making the chips safe to use, and the required power should not significantly reduce a device's battery life.

Macronix said tests of their chips' design revealed they can work reliably for at least 100 million write and read cycles.

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