Samsung and Numonyx today announced that they will jointly develop common specifications for phase change memory (PCM). Common specifications are necessary to drive the adoption of PCM, particularly since OEMs do not want to be beholden to one supplier. The development of common specifications is analogous to what Intel and ST did in NOR flash starting with the 90nm NOR flash generation and resulted in Intel and ST being dual sourced at major OEMs.
The bit alterability of PCM make it attractive in simplifying firmware and reducing system overhead, however, adoption of PCM will likely be limited until costs approach that of flash memories. With a 45nm 1Gb PCM chip scheduled for production for the end of 2009, Numonyx will be closing the gap with NOR flash, however it'll take much longer for a new memory technology to break out of its niche status, if at all. Just take a look at where FRAM and MRAM are today.
This colloboration is the right step to facilitate the development of the infrastructure supporting PCM. Samsung's backing is a validation of the technology and also provides OEMs the confidence to commit themselves to this emerging memory technology.