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 perpendicular Magnetic Tunnel Junctions (pMTJ), which, according to the company, requires less die area than STT-MRAM based on current generation in-plane MTJ cell design. Everspin’s products use either of two technologies: Toggle MRAM and STT MRAM.
The lower die area provided by pMTJ should help to keep costs down. In fact, Avalanche’s primary focus in this announcement is on cost. The product is built using standard 55nm CMOS on 300mm wafers, and the chip communicates via an SPI interface, putting it in direct competition with NOR flash, which sells for more than $100/GB, and certain EEPROMs. This is a good strategic approach, since MRAM can start its life by displacing more expensive technologies and then work its costs down the learning curve to eventually compete against lower-priced technologies like DRAM and NAND flash.
Over the longer term Avalanche has its sights set on a much bigger goal – to use this MRAM to build solid state storage arrays. With all the advantages MRAM offers this should be quite an interesting system, but it may be many years off, since DRAM sells for only $7/GB and NAND for about $0.25/GB.
Objective Analysis keeps a watch on MRAM and all other memory technologies, and can offer some valuable insight into how and when these technologies are likely to challenge today’s established products. Please contact us to explore ways that we can help your company achieve its goals in this business.