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Freescale MRAM lifts off to space

Posted: 28 Feb 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Magnetoresistive RAM? MRAM? magnetometer subsystem? space? Japanese research satellite SpriteSat?

Magnetoresistive RAM (MRAM) products from Freescale Semiconductor have been selected for use in a magnetometer subsystem from Angstrom Aerospace, which will be launched into space onboard the Japanese research satellite SpriteSat.

Angstrom is using Freescale's MRAM in its Tohoku-AAC MEMS Unit (TAMU) In developing the Satellite subsystem, Angstrom Aerospace worked closely with Swedish professor of material physics and applied spintronics Johan Akerman at the Royal Institute of Technology.

"I've worked with MRAM for years, and when it comes to reliability and endurance for data storage, there is no comparison to Freescale's MRAM products," said Akerman. "Freescale's 4Mbit MRAM device replaces both flash and battery-backed SRAM in Angstrom's module for the SpriteSat. The ability to reconfigure critical programs and route definitions during various stages of a satellite mission is a significant benefit."

TAMU plans to provide SpriteSat with magnetometer data of the Earth's magnetic field. SpriteSat is built by the Tohoku University located in Sendai, Japan, under the supervision of Professor Kazuya Yoshida. Scheduled to be launched in late 2008, SpriteSat's mission is to monitor "sprite" phenomenon (lightning effects) in Earth's upper atmosphere.

Advantages gained
Angstrom Aerospace selected Freescale's 4Mbit MRAM device because it combines non-volatile memory with extended temperature operation, unlimited endurance and long-term data retention even when the power fails. The MRAM stores program data and FPGA configuration data on a single memory, allowing Angstrom Aerospace to reduce all storage requirements to one chip, reducing board area. At the same time, the flexibility of MRAM storage allows the system to be reconfigured significantly in space.

"Our extended temperature MRAM provides unique high temperature and high reliability capabilities for rugged system designs, such as the TAMU," said David Bondurant, MRAM product manager at Freescale. "MRAM benefits also extend to the transportation and industrial markets, where Freescale is working with developers who require growing amounts of fast and cost-effective memories that are ideally non-volatile and capable of large numbers of read and write cycles."

Gaining traction
In addition to Angstrom Aerospace's MRAM deployment, e2v, a designer, developer and manufacturer of specialized aerospace and defense components has announced the licensing of Freescale's MR2A16A product. The company has released an extended-reliability version with full-performance operations across the entire military temperature range, ideally fulfilling avionics, defense and aerospace application requirements.

In 2003, Freescale demonstrated the 4Mbit MRAM chip to select customers. That same year, Honeywell signed an agreement to license the MRAM technology for military and aerospace applications and they continue to build products with this technology today.

In 2006, Freescale announced the MR2A16A 4Mbit product, the world's first commercially available MRAM device. With many customers looking for an alternative that could replace flash, SRAM and EEPROM with a single chip and eliminate battery-backup for SRAM, Freescale's MRAM products have become the preferred solution. They offer the endurance, speed and reliability required to accomplish this feat in harsh environments.

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