Interview with Bo Hansen, CEO at Capres A/S

Oct 26, 2016

Bo Hansen, Capres CEOCapres A/S was established in 1999 in Denmark to develop a unique probe technology designed for in-line production monitoring in the semiconductor industry. The company, in collaboration with IBM, developed a resistivity measurement technique to characterize MTJ stacks.

Bo Svarrer Hansen, the company's CEO since 2002, was kind enough to answers a few questions we had, and share with us his views on the MRAM market and the company's measurement systems for MRAM and STT-MRAM device developers.

Q: Can you update us on Capres' current offers to the MRAM industry?

Capres customers are using our CIPTech® tools for R&D on small samples as well as volume production on 300 mm wafers. Depending on the configuration the tools measure with an in- plane or an out- of- plane magnetic field on blanket as well as patterned wafers.

Crocus says it prevailed in their patent case against spin transfer technologies

Dec 03, 2015

In November 2013, Crocus Technology filed an Inter Partes Review petition to the US PTO, claiming that Spin Transfer Technologies's US patent #6,980,469 describes a technology already used in prior art, in particular in the patent portfolio of Crocus. In April 2014, the USPTO issued a preliminary decision in favor of Crocus' petition.

Crocus now says that it has prevailed in the Inter Partes Review of the patent. Crocus petitioned to cancel all or part of the patent as Crocus’s patent portfolio includes a patent on this technology that makes advanced non-volatile memory blocks more efficient. After careful consideration, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board of the US Patent and Trademark Office issued its final written decision cancelling or finding unpatentable all but three claims of the ’469 patent.

Crocus raised $21 million, has over 250 sensor customers, will break even in Q1 2016

Jun 19, 2015

Crocus Technology has secured $21 million in a new financing round. All of Crocus’ historical French and international investors participated in the round, including NanoDimension, Innovation Capital, IdInvest Partners, and Rusnano. Founded in 2004, Crocus has raised $194 million to date.

Crocus says that since it began producing MLU-based magnetic sensors in mid-2014, they have over 250 customers. The new capital will help Crocus to deploy its sensor product line in the key target markets: industrial, consumer electronics, automotive and solutions for IoT. Crocus will also strengthen its commercial resources (including finalizing a distribution network in Asia and reinforcing the support team) and develop develop new designs to enrich the product portfolio with integrated sensor and smart sensor applications. Crocus aims to reach breakeven in Q1 2016.

Yole sees STT-MRAM as the most suitable technology to start replacing DRAM in 2018

Feb 08, 2015

Yole Developpement released a new emerging-memory market report in which they try to asses the future of the memory market. Yose says that Phase-change memory (PCM) is pretty much dead, and the two main emerging memory technologies are MRAM and Resistive random Access Memory (ReRAM or RRAM).

Yole Développement emerging memory market slide (2015)

While RRAM is very promising in the near future, with support from Micron (they plan to release RRAM chips in 2015) and Panasonic while other players are expected to react quickly. RRAM and STT-MRAM will compete in 2015-2016 in some standalone markets (such as embedded MCU, wearables and smart cards and the storage class memory for enterprise storage which will be the biggest market), and it's not clear yet which technology will be the most popular.

Crocus developed MRAM-based magnetic sensors for flexible displays

Nov 24, 2014

Crocus Technology announced a new magnetic sensor that can be used to detect the shape and bendability of flexible displays. The company discovered a technique to turn their MRAM memory cell arrays into very sensitive magnetic sensors that have a much larger range than any commercial sensor.

Crocus MRAM-based flexible display sensor photo

The production process is very similar to the MRAM process the company uses, but with a different cell design. Basically it is a very simple sensor that detects changes in a magnetic field from a perpendicular magnet.

Crocus to develop multibit architecture for its MLU technology

Oct 27, 2014

Crocus Technology launched a new project (called Miultismart) to develop secure multibit architecture for its Magnetic Logic Unit (MLU) technology. Crocus will collaborate with Gemalto and the French research laboratories at LIRMM and IM2NP.

A multibit architecture will enable Crocus to increase the memory density without changing the die size. As part of this project, Gemalto will develop a new operating system suitable for this MCU and LIRMM and IM2NP will test, qualify and characterize the end product - a secure microcontroller with a secure element.

Researchers design new multi-bit MRAM storage paradigm

Jul 24, 2014

Researchers from France's SPINTEC/CEA developed a a new multi-bit MRAM storage paradigm that may enable a large density boost for MRAM devices. The researchers achieved up to 4 bits per cell on 110-nm devices.

Multi-bit per cell relies on multiple-voltage levels that correspond to various magnetic configurations. this is readable by key features of the electrical response (extrema points).

Crocus says the USPTO ruled a favorable preliminary decision in their case against STT's patent

Apr 12, 2014

In November 2013, Crocus Technology filed an Inter Partes Review petition to the US PTO, claiming that Spin Transfer Technologies's US patent #6,980,469 describes a technology already used in prior art, in particular in the patent portfolio of Crocus.

Crocus Technology now says that the USPTO issued a preliminary decision in favor of Crocus' petition - saying that there is a “reasonable likelihood” that Crocus will prevail with respect to its challenge. The patent in question describes a high-speed low power magnetic devices based on current induced spin-moment transfer.

ARM licenses Crocus' Magnetic Logic Unit (MLU) technology

Jan 31, 2014

Crocus Technology announced that ARM licensed the company's Magnetic Logic Unit (MLU) technology. The MLU is a CMOS based rugged magnetic technology capable of offering important advantages in performance, size and security for embedded micro-controllers. MLU can replace both flash and RAM and are suitable for mobile and security applications.

Crocus will provide ARM with access to its MLU technology, including MRAM blocks in sub-90 nm technology which can replace traditional flash memory, plus MIP (Match In Place) enabled technology which enhances the security of keys and other secret data. Crocus has been co-developing the MLU technology together with IBM since 2011.

Crocus files a petition to the US PTO saying that an STT patent should be cancelled

Nov 11, 2013

Crocus Technology filed an Inter Partes Review petition to the US PTO, claiming that US patent #6,980,469 describes a technology already used in prior art, in particular in the patent portfolio of Crocus. The patent in question describes a high-speed low power magnetic devices based on current induced spin-moment transfer, and is owned by New York University (although crocus says in their PR that it is owned by Spin Transfer Technologies (STT).

Crocus currently holds 154 patents, describing their Magnetic Logic unit (MLU) design and manufacturing as well as generic technologies like STT (Spin Torque Transfer).