MRAM Article Cites Zhu


August 14, 2000

An article in the 8/10/00 issue of the Philadelphia Inquirer, "Computers to get a good, swift boot," quotes Jian-Gang "Jimmy" Zhu, professor of electrical engineering and computer science. An excerpt from the article is below.

It is being examined by several laboratories. IBM, H-P, Motorola Inc., Honeywell International Inc., Carnegie Mellon University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology all have studied MRAM. Proponents say MRAM will combine the nonvolatility of flash with the speed of SRAM and the density of DRAM. Besides making instant-on computers possible, MRAM chips could extend the battery life of portable electronics because of their low power consumption, IBM's Parkin said. Depending on the lab, the first M in MRAM might stand for magnetoresistive, magnetic, or magnetic tunneling junction. MRAM is similar to an old form of storage called core memory. In this form of memory, which emerged in the late 1950s, the memory cells were doughnut-shaped iron magnets that had wires running through them. Changing the direction of the currents in the wires caused the polarization of the rings to change. A magnet polarized in one direction can represent a zero and one polarized in the opposite direction can represent a one. Therefore each magnetic ring can represent a data bit. MRAM is a revolutionary advance over core memory, said Jian-Gang "Jimmy" Zhu, an engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh.

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Jimmy Zhu