Taiwanese flash memory manufacturer Macronix has found a solution to flash memory degradation. Usually cells in flash memory chips degrade and after awhile it cannot be used anymore. They usually have about 10,000 write-erase cycles, after which they fail. Macronix engineers have found a self-healing NAND flash memory solution that could last over 100 million cycles.
Heat is the answer to the self-healing solution. Many engineers have already known of the effect of heat on flash memory cells though a practical method of applying heat was elusive. Macronix engineers redesigned the flash memory chip to include onboard heaters to anneal small groups of memory cells while the device is inactive. The heaters apply a brief 800°C jolt of heat to specific areas on the chip to return it back to a “good” state. According to Hang-Ting Lue, the heating can be done infrequently to one area at a time while the device is inactive but connected to a power source.
A commercial release of these self-healing flash memory chips won’t be seen anytime soon, though Macronix will present their findings at the IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) this year.