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If you’ve ever watched a movie on Blu-ray Disc or listened to a rewritable CD, you’ve used phase-change memory, a system of digital storage that writes and erases bits by switching an alloy material between crystalline and amorphous-solid states. With its exceptional stability, durability, and scalability, phase-change memory is a leading contender to replace capacitor-based random-access memory (RAM) as the workhorse memory of next-generation computers. And unlike conventional RAM, phase-change alloys retain their logic states even if there’s no power supply.

But if phase-change memory is to be used for computationally laborious cache operations, it will need to be faster. Computers typically perform those operations in fractions of a nanosecond; writing a bit to phase-change memory currently takes tens or hundreds of nanoseconds.

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Category: Science