Researchers from IBM, Macronix and Qimonda announced joint research results to a new kind computer memory technology on Monday, with the potential to be the successor to flash memory chips.

The advancement heralds success for phase-change memory systems, a technology that overcomes the current limitations of today's flash memory - used in many consumer portable electronics.

Many expect flash memory to encounter significant scaling limitations in the near future, said Dr. T. C. Chen, Vice President of Science and Technology at IBM Research. Today we unveil a new phase-change memory material that has high performance even in an extremely small volume. This should ultimately lead to phase-change memories that will be very attractive for many applications.

Memory based off these technologies can reach higher densities that current memories, enabling more space to hold more music, videos, and personal data. The device's cross-section is 3 by 20 nanometers in size, far smaller than flash can be built today and equivalent to the industry's chip-making capabilities targeted for 2015, IBM said.

The technical details of this research will be presented this week at the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineer’s (IEEE) 2006 International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) in San Francisco.