MRAM News, Resources & Information
MRAM is a next-generation memory technology, based on electron spin rather then its charge. Often referred to as the "holy-grail of memory", MRAM is fast, high-density and non-volatile and can replace all kinds of memories used today in a single chip.
GlobalFoundries announced it is joining Qualcomm and Imec (and other companies) in their joint development effort to advance STT-MRAM technology. GlobalFoundries is the first IC maker to join imec's R&D program on emerging memory technologies. Imec says that they now have the complete infrastructure necessary for STT-MRAM R&D.
Imec and the other members aim to explore the potential of STT-MRAM, including performance below 1ns and scalability beyond 10nm for embedded and standalone applications.
Researchers from the University of Delaware confirmed that electrons generate a magnetic field in a ferromagnetic material This new field does not radiate beyond the ferromagnetic material and so may lead towards high-density MRAM memory cells (in current technology it is difficult to shield the magnetic fields between memory cells).
In materials made from two layers of a heavy metal and a ferromagnetic material, the spin current diffuses into the ferromagnetic material. When this happens, a magnetic field is generated. This magnetic field does not radiate beyond the ferromagnetic material (unlike regular magnetic fields).
The US Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) awarded Crocus with a contract to develop 8-bit per cell MRAM technology. This is the first phase in a multi-bit cell development project that is scheduled to be completed in one year.
Crocus will expand its magnetic logic unit (MLU) architecture to enable 8-bit per cells. This will reduce the energy consumed per written-bit to be below any other technology currently available. Such MRAM chips will be used to enhance chip security and cryptoprocessors as hacking into those chips will be more complex.
Researchers from the US Ames Laboratory in collaboration with Iowa State University and Greece's University of Crete developed a new way to switch magnetism that is at least 1000 times faster than current technologies. This all-optical quantum method may lead towards terahertz (or even faster) MRAM devices and faster hard drives.
Everspin announced a new MRAM chip, the 1-Megabit serial MR10Q010 that features a Quad-SPI interface. Quad SPI, which has four serial I/O paths, is an evolutionary upgrade from SPI (that has a single I/O path). Everspin expects the new part, which has a 104 MHz clock speed with 52 MBps read/write bandwidth, to be used in applications that require high frequency, high-performance writes of most critical data.
The MR10Q010 MRAM offers read/write bandwidth comparable to parallel I/O MRAM but with a significant savings in pins and allows execute in place (XIP) operation. The chip includes a complete command set for Quad SPI operations including fast reads and writes in which address and data are input on all four I/Os to reduce clock cycles. The part comes in a cost-effective, low pin count 16-pin SOIC package – a savings of 20 pins over parallel interfaces – that supports low voltage levels with separate VDDQ for I/O. It is compatible with future high-density Quad SPI packages that Everspin is planning to introduce.
Yole Développement released a new report on Emerging Non-Volatile Memories (which include four major technologies: MRAM, PCM, RRAM and FeRAM). They see the market increasing ten-fold in the next five years to $2 billion by 2018 (of which STT-MRAM and PCM will take the major share of $1.6 billion) - mostly due to improved scalability and chip density.
The largest market will be enterprise storage, where STT-MRAM and PCM cache memory will be adopted. PCM will also be used in mobile phones thanks to 1GB chips made available by Micron in 2012. STT-MRAM is expected to replace SRAM in SoC applications thanks to lower power consumption and better scalability. Another market for MRAM and STT-MRAM is smart card MCUs.
Researchers from the University of Cambridge in the UK have developed the world's first 3D microchip, based on Spintronics technology. The chip basically uses atoms to store and transfer the data - and not electronic transistors. This may lead to 3D MRAM chips that have a large memory density - thousands of times larger than what's available today.
To create this chip they used sputtering - effectively making a sandwich on a silicon chip of cobalt, platinum and ruthenium atoms. The cobalt and platinum atoms store the digital information in a similar way to how a hard disk drive stores data. The ruthenium atoms act as messengers, communicating that information between neighboring layers of cobalt and platinum. Each of the layers is only a few atoms thick.