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16Mbit MRAM set to displace SRAM

Posted: 21 Apr 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MRAM? SRAM? NAND flash?

Everspin Technologies Inc., a spin off of Freescale Semiconductor Inc, is sampling a 16Mbit magnetoresistive random access memory (MRAM) device.

The company is positioning its 16Mbit MRAM for the SRAM replacement, data retention and related markets. In industrial and related embedded applications, Everspin hopes to displace battery-backed SRAMs or associated discrete solutionsa move that threatens the likes of Cypress, ISSI, Maxim, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments and others.

Many of the battery-backed SRAM or related discrete solutions "are cheap, but not reliable," said Doug Mitchell, vice president of sales and marketing for Everspin. "We're starting to get into a lot of these markets because of cost."

MRAM is a memory that uses the magnetism of electron spin to provide non-volatility. Everspin claims its MRAMs store "information in magnetic material integrated with silicon circuitry to deliver the speed of SRAM with the non-volatility of flash in a single unlimited-endurance device."

As before, the company is not pushing its new or current MRAMs for the so-called universal memory market. In that segment, several next-generation memory makers, including those who are developing ferroelectric RAM, MRAM, phase-change, and RRAM, hope to displace today's DRAMs and flash memories.

"None of those of those technologies will replace DRAM or NAND flash anytime soon," Mitchell said.

Instead of the universal memory market, Everspin is aiming its parts for applications that can take advantage of the non-volatility and high-reliability of MRAMs, he said.

For some time, Everspin has sold its MRAM products as "drop-in replacements" for SRAMs in various applications, such as aerospace, automotive, industrial, smart meter and even casino games, he said. One of its fastest growing markets is storage, especially the "RAID write journal" portion of a RAID system. In that market, OEMs tend to use non-volatile RAM or flash devices from the likes of Cypress and others.

"Everspin is taking a different approach than most alternative memory companies," said Jim Handy, an analyst with Objective-Analysis. Unlike mostif not allof the universal memory hopefuls, Everspin "is shipping products and established in certain markets. They are moving into smaller markets that take advantage of the attributes of MRAM."

MRAMs have been in development since the 1990s, but many of the announcements have been hype at best. Several companies have tried but failed to commercialize MRAMs. Other companies are planning to enter the MRAM market, including Crocus Technology, Grandis, IBM-TDK, Samsung, Toshiba and Avalanche Technology.

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