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Hynix chooses dense Z-RAM tech for future memory

One of the leading DRAM vendors plans to use technology from Innovative Silicon in future memory chips that is denser, and cheaper, than the current alternative.

Hynix is shaking things up in the memory market with its decision to license Innovative Silicon's Z-RAM technology.

The two companies jointly announced the agreement on Monday.

Z-RAM is a twist on the traditional makeup of a memory cell. Almost all PCs use DRAM to temporarily store information while the system is running, to avoid delays accessing that data from the hard drive every time it is needed. And each DRAM cell needs a transistor and a capacitor, which stores electrical charge, to represent a bit of data. But Innovative Silicon figured out a way to take advantage of the "floating-body effect" to make a transistor with the capacitor built right in there, reducing the size and complexity of a memory cell.

That results in a memory cell that is easier to scale into the future, as chip companies work to keep Intel co-founder Gordon Moore honest, and that also uses less power than a conventional DRAM cell. AMD already has a license for Z-RAM for use as the cache memory in microprocessors.

Hynix didn't say when it plans to have Z-RAM-based computer memory ready for sale, but it's likely to take some time as the undulating DRAM market rolls forward over the next several years. Perhaps this would also make it cheaper for PC companies to put more than 4GBs of memory into their systems, finally kicking off the 64-bit era of personal computing.