The problem today is *not* the speed of the flash memory (which is
times faster than conventional movie storage devices, anyway) but the
capacity. Unfortunately, flash is more expensive to produce than RAM
(and magnetic media). And that has generally limited capacities of
consumer-priced memory cards to 32 to 128 megabytes. The
highest-capacity type, called NAND for the type of logic gate it
predominantly employs, also takes far longer to write data than do
competing magnetic and optical alternatives.
For example, you can buy a 100 GB hard disk for a hundred dollar
(about $1 per GB), but the cheapest 1 GB compact flash card is almost
a thousand USD. The prices are still going down, but with the current
technology, it will not be feasible for a few years.
The breakthrough will need new technologies, which are today exist but
still are not mass-produced. Today, two of the biggest CPU producers
are also the biggest players in non-volatile memory area: Intel and
AMD. AMD is currently the leading flash memory producer.
A search on Google with the keywords "non volatile memory technology"
(without quotes) brings some interesting innovations:
Memory company Ramtron claims its ferroelectric random access memory
(FRAM) is a new generation of nonvolatile memory that has the fast
read/write speed and low power of battery-backed SRAM and eliminates
the need for a battery. The company says that while EEPROM and Flash
require long write times, wear out after being written a small number
of times, and use a large amount of power to write data, FRAM "writes
instantly, has virtually unlimited endurance, and requires very little
Retaining Transistor Memory without Power: This new technology has the
potential to enable the production of a high-density, low-power,
radiation-hard, and inexpensive nonvolatile memory that is completely
compatible with existing silicon manufacturing technology. In
addition, it has numerous other potential applications in fields as
widely diverse as imaging devices, flat-panel display technology, and
nonvolatile memory for handheld devices and smart cards.
And searching for "non-volatile-memory future technology" (without
Non-volatile memory that uses a novel "3-dimensional structure" as a
means to reduce manufacturing costs is coming to market: the Matrix
3-D Memory, developed by U.S.-based Matrix Semiconductor, Inc.
According to plans, the first of the new products housing such memory
will be a 64MB compact memory card. The memory card will be
inexpensive, priced at under US$15. The company adds that it will be
possible to make further cost reductions through applying leading-edge
miniaturization technologies and increasing the number of layers. This
suggests that we may one day see the emergence of "disposable"
semiconductor memory, as in the CD-R format in the optical disc
Other Non-Volatile Memories:
Chipmakers also are working on other types of non-volatile memory.
One, ferroelectric RAM (FRAM), uses ferroelectric materials to store
bits. It provides the superior speed of regular RAM but uses less
power than flash memory, according to the company holding many of the
FRAM patents, Ramtron International of Colorado Springs, CO.
Another technology promising similar advantages, magnetic RAM (MRAM),
uses magnetic rather than electronic charges to store data. Among its
backers are IBM and Infineon Technologies of Munich, a major memory
FRAM could appear next summer as a cheaper, single-chip alternative
for today's cellular phone-system software. (Today this is typically
stored on a combination of static RAM and NOR flash, a second type of
flash memory that employs logic gates better suited for sophisticated
logical operations than NAND, which excels at sequentially reading
large blocks of data.)
"Ferroelectric RAM can basically handle both the functions of the fast
[static RAM] and the non-volatile flash," says Matt Schmidt, a
spokesperson for Infineon, a partner with Toshiba on FRAM technology.
Both new types of memory could replace flash in many applications,
though MRAM is not likely to arrive before 2004, Schmidt says.
Hope this helps,