Yesterday Samsung announced a working prototype of what it calls Phase-change Random Access Memory (PRAM) flash memory, nicknamed "Perfect RAM", amid claims that they expect PRAM to replace high-density NOR flash memory within a decade.
The prototype has a capacity of 512 Mbit (64MB) so it doesn't represent any kind of hike in storage just yet (although greater capacities are bound to follow down the line) but what's exciting about PRAM is that it's 30-times faster than existing flash memory technology. It achieves these speeds in part because it can write data without first having to erase previously written data. To top off these consumer benefits, PRAM has greater read/write lifespan, by up to 10 times! What we don't have yet is any information on power consumption, since this is aimed at devices that run off batteries, the lower the power consumption the better.
Perfect RAM also offers manufacturing benefits too. Manufacturing PRAM takes roughly 20% fewer steps compared to NOR flash RAM, meaning it will be much cheaper to produce (although don't expect this technology to be cheap when it first hits the market).
I must admit I’m very excited about this! Since PRAM has a speed that's close to that of the RAM in your PC, it means that a PC fitted with PRAM could be capable of hibernating instantly without writing the contents of memory to hard disk. PRAM could also replace hard drives with low-power consumption flash memory devices. This could revolutionize how we work with desktop and laptop PCs.