Hitachi and a group from Japan's Tohoku University have developed a new type of memory element structure for MRAM that promises to eventually lead to gigabit-level versions of this next-generation memory technology.

For their MRAM memory element, Hitachi and the university group employed spin injection, a technology that is used for hard-drive magnetic heads and enables the structure around the element to be simplified. For the free layer where the bit is actually recorded, the element adopts the same laminated-ferri structure used in MRAM devices sold by U.S. firm Freescale Semiconductor Inc. This free layer has a double-layered composition made from cobalt-iron-boron and ruthenium.

Using these technologies, if an MRAM chip were fabricated using a 45-nanometer process, it could store the same gigabit level of data as DRAM.

Hitachi and the university group still need to develop other essential technologies for the MRAM, but hope to have a high-capacity chip ready within several years.