How Do You Make a ReRAM Work?

I/V Curve for Panasonic's ReRAM Select DiodeDuring this week’s International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) I learned some very valuable information about memories built using crosspoint matrices.

Since ISSCC is a conference at which you meet the best and brightest minds in the industry it should come as no surprise that I was able to meet with several of the most forward-thinking industry luminaries.  One of them explained to me a very fundamental difficulty with resistive RAMs (ReRAMs): These devices require a forward current to be programmed to a “1” and a reverse current to be set to a zero.  This goes against the ideal crosspoint memory design in which a bit would consist of nothing more than a diode in series with a memory element.  By inserting a diode, the current can only run in one direction, so a bit can be programmed or it can be erased, but not both.  This is called Continue reading “How Do You Make a ReRAM Work?”

Harari Delivers Inspiring Keynote at ISSCC

Eli Harari Delivers ISSCC KeynoteThe annual International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) is a gathering in which the brightest minds in semiconductors come to meet and share the results of their recent research and development efforts.  This year the four keynotes at the opening plenary centered on a “Green” outlook, through Storage, Control, Computing, and Energy.

Naturally, as “The Memory Guy,” I focused all of my attention upon the storage keynote, given by SanDisk’s recently-retired CEO Eli Harari.  Some of the more interesting points I came away with were: Continue reading “Harari Delivers Inspiring Keynote at ISSCC”

NAND SSD Performance to Decline over Time

Chart from the Grupp, Davis, Swanson paper showing latency increases with capacityA few articles at ComputerworldTom’s Hardware, and The Verge were recently passed my way.  These reported on a paper presented at last week’s USENIX conference that predicted how NAND flash’s future performance declines would impact tomorrow’s SSDs.

The paper found that SSD performance is likely to decrease over time as SSDs increase in capacity.  The report postulates that SSDs of the future: “may be too slow and unreliable to be competitive against disks of similar cost in enterprise applications.”

Sadly, the Tom’s Hardware and Verge articles focused more on one of the assumptions behind the paper Continue reading “NAND SSD Performance to Decline over Time”

Micron Suffers Another Loss

Jim GarrettSoon after the death of Micron president Steve Appleton, former chairman & COO Jim Garrett passed away.  Garrett died at age 64 from cancer.

Garrett joined Micron in 1985 as vice president of sales & marketing and became vice chairman in 1990.  He served as chairman and chief operating officer from 1992-1994 until his resignation over allegations that another boardmember released internal company information.

Garrett had a good reputation as  a positive manager who helped guide Micron through a very difficult period for the US DRAM industry.

Elpida Finally Makes Statement

Difficult Times for ElpidaFor months rumors have abounded regarding Elpida’s viability and plans the company has to overcome its current financial woes.  Although the company has been questioned about advanced payments and loans from its customers, takeover and merger possibilities, and even government intervention, Elpida has remained silent, refusing to comment.

Today the company finally made a statement that it will be adding a note to its Q3 results and earnings report: “on Matters concerning the Assumed Going Concern.”

This statement, which looks like it was written very carefully by either Continue reading “Elpida Finally Makes Statement”

Hynix is now SK-Hynix

Cover of Hynix Memory CatalogHynix Semiconductor has a new name.  Through SK Telecom’s November 2011 purchase of 21.1% of Hynix’ shares from its creditors mobile phone service provider SK has acquired controlling interest of the company and is re-branding Hynix as SK-Hynix.

The Memory Guy has not discussed this with either Hynix or SK Telecom so far, but it seems unusual that a 21.1% stake in a company would gain a controlling interest.

Suffice it to say that Hynix’ creditor banks, who have been trying to divest themselves of their ownership of Hynix for a few years, have finally found Continue reading “Hynix is now SK-Hynix”

New NAND Player: Macronix

Macronix NAND FlashMacronix, a company known for its leadership in mask ROMs and low-density NOR flash has just entered the NAND flash market.  This adds a new player to a very small pool of competitors: Samsung, Toshiba, SanDisk, Hynix, Intel, and Micron.

The company’s first NAND products are SLC chips of two densities: 512Mb and 1Gb.  Compare this to the offerings of the market’s other participants which range up to 256Gb.  Spot price tracker InSpectrum doesn’t even track pricing of densities below 4Gb!

There still seems to be a good market for these low-density parts: According to WSTS  Continue reading “New NAND Player: Macronix”

Rambus Acquires Unity Semiconductor

Unity SemiconductorRambus announced that the company has acquired privately-held Unity Semiconductor, an alternative memory technology company for $35 million. Unity employees have joined Rambus and will continue to develop  next-generation nonvolatile memory.

Unity has an interesting technology that has caught the eye of some leading memory firms, including Micron, who had an exclusive right to Unity’s technology.  The company’s CMOx is based on oxygen ions moving within a semiconducting material.  It’s one species of resistive RAM.

Although Unity has been trying for years to manufacture very high density nonvolatile memory chips, The Memory Guy is not aware that the company has yet produced the chips they have set out to make.

Continue reading “Rambus Acquires Unity Semiconductor”

Micron CEO Killed in Plane Crash

Micron CEO Steve AppletonToday Micron CEO Steve Appleton was killed in an airplane accident.  Objective Analysis has issued an alert to our clients and subscribers giving details of the wreck, Appleton’s contributions to the company, and some thoughts on the company’s succession.  The Alert can be viewed by visiting the Objective Analysis Reports page.

Most of all my thoughts and sympathies go to Appleton’s family and his former co-workers, all of whom are mourning his death.  Although we realize that Mr. Appleton will be missed, but we know that Micron will continue to follow the path set up by Appleton’s predecessor, Micron founder Jerry Parkinson, to maintain its position as one of the leading memory chip suppliers.

Elpida ReRAM Prototype

How a New Technology Usurps FlashElpida announced the development of a high-speed 64Mb non-volatile resistance memory (ReRAM) prototype using a 50nm process. The device was jointly developed with the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), a Japanese-funded public institution.

Elpida will conduct further ReRAM development with Sharp Corporation, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST, another Japanese public institution) and the University of Tokyo.

It’s encouraging to see that Elpida still has its eye on projects into 2013 and beyond.  The company is rumored to be working feverishly to find ways to stay in business through this year.  Today’s DRAM market is a challenging one!

Continue reading “Elpida ReRAM Prototype”