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Chalcogenide-based phase change memory (PCM) is a type of non-volatile memory that will most likely replace the currently widespread flash memory. Current research on PCM targets the integration feasibility, as well as the reliability of such memory technology into the currently used complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) process. Such studies identified special failure modes, known as disturbs, as well as other PCM specific faults. In this study, the authors identify these failures, analyse their behaviours and develop fault primitives/models that describe these faults accurately and effectively. In addition, the authors propose an efficient test algorithm, called March-PCM, to test for these faults and compare its performance to some previously developed test algorithms.