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Packing a terabyte of blazing-fast solid state storage into a form factor the size of a postage stamp sounds like the work of (incredibly nerdy) science-fiction, but Crossbar, a Santa Clara memory start-up, is closing in on commercialization of just that with their take on non-volatile resistive RAM storage (often abbreviated to ReRAM or RRAM). Additionally, the company claims that their technology has 20 times better write performance, 20 times lower power consumption, and 10 times the endurance of the NAND flash memory used in today’s solid state drives.

In short, holy cow!

Crossbar's RRAM relies on filament forming in a silicon-based switching material when voltage is applied between two electrodes that sandwich it.

A brief explanation of Crossbar’s implementation of RRAM.

RRAM itself is far from a new innovation, with Dr. Yakov Roizin of integrated circuit heavyweight TowerJazz noting that the basic technology behind the memory was invented during the 1960s. Being an older technology hasn’t stopped industry giants from developing a renewed interest, however, with companies like Samsung, Globalfoundries, Taiwan Semiconductor, and Seagate all filing patents related to RRAM in the past handful of years.

Crossbar’s major innovation lies in their solution to the biggest problem facing RRAM production: “sneak path current”, in which electrical current leaks from its path to the desired memory cell and into adjacent cells, hurting the ability for an RRAM drive to interpret data. To combat this, Crossbar uses what they call a “Field Assisted Superlinear Threshold Selector Device”, which reduces sneak path current by placing undesired cells in a low-voltage state.

The initial markets for Crossbar-based drives may come as a surprise. As Kristian Vättö from Anandtech notes,

“At first Crossbar is aiming at the embedded market and is licensing its technology to ASIC, FPGA and SoC developers with first samples arriving in early 2015, and mass production scheduled for late 2015 or early 2016.”

With this in mind, it seems that Crossbar’s RRAM technology would likely be implemented on phones, tablets, wearable tech, and other mobile consumer electronics before entering the PC storage market. Mobile manufacturers could have a synergistic relationship with RRAM’s (alleged) lower power consumption, seeing as every milliwatt matters in the fight for high battery-life when a flagship phone like the Samsung Galaxy S5 consumes a mere 6.2 watts of power at max load, according to Florian Wimmer of

Unfortunately, it will be quite some time before RRAM storage shows up in a high-performance gaming PC near you. However, with the way the technology is shaping up, it looks like it could very well be worth the wait.

What’s your take on Crossbar’s claims for RRAM storage? Do you think this technology would be better suited for PCs or for mobile devices? Let us know in the comment section below!

William Garcia

Contributes to TechRaptor, primarily focusing on enthusiast PC hardware, but dabbling in anything with buttons that bleeps and bloops.

  • NoName

    Too bad that by the time these things hit market, most of the hype would’ve died down. Unless there is an aggressive marketing campaign.

  • William Garcia

    I get where you’re coming from, NoName!

    Having said that, the companies that feature this sort of technology in their products will likely have pretty big P.R. departments of their own, and it could definitely be a big selling point.

    We’ll have to wait and see!

  • Audie Bakerson

    By the time we get this the average game will be 2 terabytes.

  • John

    Seagate and WD must be pissing their pants right now.

  • ArsCortica

    I feel it needs to be said that storing so much data on such little space is a breathtaking achievement of engineering. Of course it is nothing entirely new since the age of USB flash drives and such, but I still remember the times when the better hard drives had a few hundred megabytes worth of storage. This stuff would have probably looked like Alien technology to people back in the days.

  • William Garcia

    LOL! It’ll be interesting to see how WD and Seagate react to whatever comes after NAND flash, seeing as, for quite a while, they were both pretty ambivalent to flash SSDs compared to their competitors (WD moreso than Seagate, the Seagate 600 is actually a pretty awesome SSD, but they were kinda late to the party on it, plus Seagate owns SandForce.)

    I wouldn’t be surprised if either of them wind up licensing technologies from a company like Crossbar or purchasing the technology pre-fabricated, sort of like what we see with flash memory controllers these days. This technology could easily end up in a “Seagate” or “WD” drive, but we’ll have to wait and see.

  • William Garcia

    What’s sad is that this wouldn’t surprise me…

  • William Garcia

    Yes! This has the makings of a major breakthrough, and while I’m personally trying to contain my excitement a bit (the proof is in the commercial silicon), it’s hard not to get hyped over the ability to have that much storage at that speed at that size.

  • The games mostly have been bludgeoning because of raw uncompressed file formats

    There are limits to that being a problem

  • Elilla Shadowheart

    Probably has to do with the number of pre-built machines that use “green” drives for their primary storage. Nothing sucks down transfer rates like a 4200 or 4800rpm drive.

  • John Albert

    I think Seagate and WD have their market, and they have the luxury of letting another company do the R&D, marketing, and testing the market to make sure it’s not a huge flop, then coming in and licensing the tech, and mass producing it to drive down costs and push the originators out of the market.

    It isn’t like server drives are likely to switch to these before WD and Seagate enter the fray, as business tends to let tech prove reliability before investing rather than care about bleeding edge.