Gonna Live Forever: Flash Memory with Slower Decay
Oh, those clever scientists. They've found a way to make flash memory last longer, use less power, and manage cell failure in a more even-handed manner. Currently, flash memory goes bad after around ten years, all things being equal. Your mileage may vary if you save stuff with great frequency (kind of the point of flash memory, no?), or use a memory stick as virtual RAM (a Vista feature).
A newly-developed verison of flash will last an average of 100,000,000 saves, and, should a chunk of the memory go bad, the whole stick isn't toast... just those cells (which hopefully held a few LOLcats and not your Phd thesis).
The new ferroelectric NAND flash technology can do rewrites 100 million times, versus the 10,000 or so of existing tech, and can be scaled down to 10nm—one third the size of next-gen conventional flash. Furthermore, the ferroelectric chips use a "wear leveling" system to even-out the usage of memory cells, and can even disable bad cells without killing the whole chip.
Flash memory chips are widely used in products such as Apple's iPhone, mini notebooks like the Asus Eee PC, video games consoles such as the Nintendo Wii, flash memory cards, digital cameras and Flash-based SSD hard disk drives.
Current Flash chips are estimated to have a useful lifetime of around a decade for most applications.
However, some applications that require repeated writing and rewriting of data can theoretically cause cells to wear out much faster, sometimes rendering a Flash device useless within a few years.