“The research trend now in memory technology is to find a single memory for both temporary storage and permanent storage in personal computers as well as embedded systems. Research trend now in memory is unification of memory, so that there should be no separate SRAM, DRAM and flash, it’s going to be just one memory.”
Today, the short-term memory of DRAM is separate from the permanent storage of flash or hard drives. The rise of non-volatile memory technologies will make this redundant. Instead, something experts call “universal memory” will replace both, making for much faster devices as data and applications won’t have to shift between them on their way to and from the processor.
Something called “Phase Change Memory” or PRAM is poised to completely change the way computers work, by unifying storage and execution RAM in computers so that you no longer have to “load” files and programs from storage media (hard disks, CDROM, SSD, Flash memory, etc) into execution RAM to be executed. — You know, that minutes-long wait between you turning on your computer to when the OS has finished loading itself into memory is about to be a thing of the past. So is losing files you’re working on when something glitches or the power goes out.
A little thought experiment to show how this could change your life: just imagine your smartphone with PRAM. Instant on, no waiting for the thing to boot up, instant switching from browsing to voice to other apps like GPS. No more 5 minute power cycles, cursing at the thing because you can’t dial 911 while some thug taps on your car window with a tire iron.
Unified storage and execution memory. Wow! What a futuristic concept – when this happens, computing will finally step forward – back into the year 1983.
Recognize this? Yep, a 1983 TRS-80 Model 100. 32k of RAM that, you guessed it, serves as both “storage” and “execution” RAM. An innovative concept that meant instant-on bootups and programs that leapt instantly into action on launch, despite the anemic 2mhz processor. It also meant that every keystroke you made was saved instantly on non-volatile media. You happen to be typing a long document when the power goes off? No problem. When power comes back up, your document is right there, not a single character lost.
So this new PRAM stuff promises to make that behavior the norm for computers of the future. I applaud that – it’s a great idea and very much overdue. Give these future machines a simple built-in programming language that can read and write all the ports, and give it plenty of ports to work with, and make it run 20 hours on four standard “AA” batteries, then you have something that begins to touch the awesomeness that is the 1983 TRS-80 Model 100. Oh, and give it an awesome clicky-style keyboard with full-size, full-travel keys like the Model 200, while you’re at it. That would be real nice for the industry to get around to doing… Again. :D