It is becoming more complex to make NAND and DRAM as manufacturing technology improves at a rapid rate, Handy said. Intel, which has the world's most advanced chip factories, will soon move to the 14-nanometer process to make its chips. Manufacturing smaller chips with more features requires more attention to detail, and chips could be vulnerable to a wider class of defects.
"With that in mind, and with the advent of 3D NAND as a successor to today's planar NAND, there may be another five process generations, or even more, before alternative memory technologies have a shot at replacing NAND flash. The story's probably the same for DRAM," Handy said.
Once a scaling limit has indeed been reached, technologies like Crossbar's RRAM will rapidly take away market share from the entrenched players, Handy said.
Other RRAM designs are being researched by academics and research institutions. Alternative forms of memory to NAND and DRAM also include Everspin's MRAM (magnetoresistive RAM) and PCM (phase-change memory), a memory type being pursued by Micron and Samsung Semiconductor. Hewlett-Packard is making a memory type called memristor.
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