Tomorrow’s Memory Technologies

Avalanche Samples MRAM

AVALANCHE TECHNOLOGY, INC. LOGO

Today Avalanche Technology announced that it is sampling MRAM, making it the world’s second company to actually produce this much-researched technology.

For those unfamiliar with MRAM, it is one of a number of technologies being positioned to replace currently-entrenched memory technologies once they reach their scaling limits.  Regular Memory Guy readers know that this juncture has been anticipated for a few decades, but always seems to get postponed.

MRAM, like many other alternative technologies, offers the promise of scaling beyond the limits of DRAM and NAND to become cheaper than ether of these technologies.  Add to this its fast write speed, low power, lack of refresh, nearly unlimited endurance, and nonvolatility, and it becomes a very compelling alternative over the long term.

As opposed to the other MRAM-maker Everspin, Avalanche’s MRAM uses Continue reading

What Memory Will Intel’s Purley Platform Use?

Part of Intel Purley SlideThere has been quite a lot of interest over the past few days about the apparently-inadvertent disclosure by Intel of its server platform roadmap.  Detailed coverage in The Platform showed a couple of slides with key memory information for the upcoming Purley server platform which will support the Xeon “Skylake” processor family.

One slide, titled: “Purley: Biggest Platform Advancement Since Nehalem” includes this post’s graphic, which tells of a memory with: “Up to 4x the capacity & lower cost than DRAM, and 500x faster than NAND.”

The Memory Guy puzzled a bit about what this might be.  The only memory chip technology today with a cost structure lower than that of DRAM is NAND flash, and there is unlikely to be any technology within the leaked roadmap’s 2015-2017 time span that will change that.  MRAM, ReRAM, PCM, FRAM, and other technologies can’t beat DRAM’s cost, and will probably take close to a decade to get to that point.

Since that’s the case, then what is this mystery memory?  If we think of memory systems, rather than memory chips we can come up with one very plausible answer.  Intel may be very Continue reading

Why ST-MRAMs Need Specialized DDR3 Controllers

Everspin ST-MRAM press photoEverspin and Northwest Logic have just announced full interoperability between Northwest Logic’s MRAM Controller Core and Everspin Technologies’ ST-MRAM (Spin-Torque Magnetic RAM) chips. This interoperability is hardware proven on a Xilinx Virtex-7 FPGA and is now available for designs needing low-latency, high memory throughput using MRAM technology.

Since The Memory Guy knew that Everspin’s EMD3D064M ST-MRAM was fully DDR3 compatible, I had to wonder why the part would require a special controller – couldn’t it simply be controlled by any DDR3 controller?

Everspin’s product marketing director, Joe O’Hare, took the time to Continue reading

Cypress to Merge with Spansion

NOR flash and SRAM revenues are in decline, but MCUs are growing(Excerpted from an Objective Analysis Alert issued 1 December 2014.)

In a move touted as a merger of equals, Cypress will acquire Spansion in an all-stock transaction slated to close in the second quarter of 2015.  The purchase price is estimated at $1.6 billion.

Cypress points out that it is the leading producer of SRAMs, and that Spansion is the leading NOR flash provider.

One striking feature of this transaction is the Continue reading

Memory Issues in Space & Medical Applications

How an alpha particle disrupts a memory bitThe Memory Guy was recently asked about using memories in a satellite. What would be a good technology to use in a space application?

The problem with space is that there is a lot of radiation.  Radiation on the earth’s surface is lower because it is stopped by the atmosphere, but in space there is an abundance of radiation that interferes with most semiconductors.  Radiation is also a concern in certain medical applications where a memory must maintain its contents while undergoing sterilization through irradiation.  Experiments on conventional flash memories have shown data loss at only 2% of the Continue reading

New Book: Vertical 3D Memory Technologies

Book: Vertical 3D Memory Technologies - Betty PrinceWiley has recently published a new book by Betty Prince titled Vertical 3D NAND Technologies that is one to consider if you want to bring yourself up to speed on recent research behind today’s and tomorrow’s 3D memory technologies.

For those who haven’t previously encountered Dr. Prince, she is the author of a number of key books covering memory design and holds memory patents written over her 30-year career in the field.

The book provides capsule summaries of over 360 papers and articles from scholarly journals on the subject of 3D memories, including DRAM, NAND flash, and stacked chips.

These papers are organized into Continue reading

Fundamentals of Memory – Free Online Course

Fundamentals of Memory Course - EE TimesSome time ago The Memory Guy was asked by Numonyx (later acquired by Micron) to put together an online course for EE Times on memory technologies, explaining how each one works and where it is used.

Although the course was very well received, I never posted a link to it on The Memory Guy blog.  This post is intended to correct that error.

The course runs 75 minutes and covers the basics of DRAM, non-volatile RAM, SRAM, NAND flash, NOR flash, mask ROM, and EEPROM.  It explains each technology’s advances in size, cost and performance, leading up to the development of Continue reading

Researchers Devise 4-D Memory

George P. BurdellOnly months after Samsung’s announcement of 3D memory production a new 4-dimensional memory has been prototyped by university researchers.  This memory not only has bits in the X and Y dimensions, like planar NAND, and the Z dimension, like 3D NAND, but it also grows in capacity over time, spanning the fourth dimension: time.

This research has been spearheaded by George P. Burdell, Assistant Associate Professor pro tem at Death Valley University.  The work is the culmination of a decades-long effort to find a way to increase memory sizes in systems without the need to replace chips or modules.

The team has created the name “Growing RAM” or “GRAM” for the technology.  Current prototypes exhibit very favorable Continue reading

Crossbar’s Radical New Memory Technology

Cross Section of the Crossbar Memory CellCrossbar, Inc. has come out of stealth mode with a fascinating new alternative memory technology.  Furthermore, the company says that a working memory array has been produced at a commercial fab.

Crossbar says that the technology can put a terabyte onto a single chip.  The company has already measured filaments as thin as 6nm, and is confident that it can be shrunk further and that it will support multilevel cells.

Crossbar’s device is a silver filament ReRAM with a difference.  For one, the silver filaments are in standard silicon dioxide, probably the most Continue reading

New Memory Bonding Technique Shows Promise

Spider Attaching Bonding Wires on Multi-Chip StacksIn a new cross-disciplinary effort, researchers have developed a novel approach to attach bonding wires to stacks of memory chips.  The new technique, being called a “breakthrough” by its developers, promises to allow chips to be stacked to several times their current 8-chip and 16-chip heights.

At issue is the challenge of precisely bonding wires a fraction of the diameter of a human hair over great distances without their inadvertently coming into contact with their neighbors to create a short circuit.  Such a short could destroy one or more of the chips in the stack, rendering the entire stack useless.  The mechanical means of attaching these wires, although highly sophisticated, still has significant issues, that limit the economics of higher stacks.

Researchers at the Berea University of Geology (BUG) in Berea, Kentucky, noticed that certain Continue reading

Contact

Jim Handy Objective Analysis Memory Market Research +1 (408) 356-2549 Jim.Handy (at) Objective-Analysis.com

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