NEC has just announced a new memory component called the magnetic flip-flop (MFF). No, not that kind of flip-flop — although that’s not a bad idea. So what are these things and what do they mean for us?
Well, in a normal system-on-chip, the traditional flip-flops (circuits that are used to store binary values) and SRAM require power to retain their values. In other words, once you turn off the system, they lose all stored data. NEC says that MFFs and MRAM don’t require power. So even when powered down, they will keep all stored data.
This translates to lower power usage on handhelds and other small devices. NEC also says that MRAM has “unlimited write endurance” unlike flash memory. So they should never crap out like flash chips eventually do (not that this is a major danger at the moment). This could eventually mean that small devices will startup faster, since much of the built-in memory will still contain the data that it had the last time it was used. I doubt you’ll hear anything about this technology once you close this tab or hit the back button, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be improving your devices next year anyway.