The great megabit microchip derby Essay

The race toward commercial production of a computer memory chip that can store more than 1 milion bits of information — four times as much as the best currently available chips can hold — is getting hotter. Several Japanese and U.S. companies described their latest entries recently at the International Solid State Circuits Conference held in New York. Smaller than a dime, AT&T’s dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chip (left) allows individual memory cells to be accessed within 80 billionths of a second. IBM, which announced its first megabit DRAM chip last year (bottom, right), has a new one (top, right) that is smaller and operates twice as fast as the original model. Although the experimental IBM chips were fabricated on existing production lines, commercial production of the chips is at least a year away. Who will win the race is still unclear.

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