University of Massachusetts Amherst and Texas A&M University researchers have developed a method for writing information to flash memory under low-voltage conditions, which could lead to a new generation of low-power storage devices.
The researchers found that using software-only coding algorithms exploited the electrically cumulative nature of half-written data based on tunneling, a quantum mechanical phenomenon, which allows programs to write data to flash memory while running on less than the minimum required voltage. Electrons reached the chip a few at a time and accumulated as they were not being used, and as soon as enough electrons were collected, the system had enough power to write data for that instant.
"Our evaluation shows that tightly maintaining the digital abstraction for storage in embedded flash memory comes at a significant cost to energy consumption with minimal gain in reliability," the researchers say.
The storage method could be useful for small devices such as remote control keys, digital picture frames, and electronic passports, according to the researchers.
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