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Phase-change memories support serial interface

Posted: 23 Apr 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:NOR flash? phase-change memory? PCM? serial interface?

Numonyx BV has launched the Omneo range of NOR-compatible phase-change memories (PCM). The 128Mbit devices were developed using a 90nm process technology that offer up to 300x faster write speeds and 10x more write endurance than today's flash memory, the company claimed.

The P5Q product supports the serial peripheral interface. The P8P product supports the parallel x16 NOR interface and is essentially the 128Mbit 'Alverstone' phase-change memory that Numonyx has been sampling since 2008. However the write endurance has been increased by a factor of 10 to 1 million cycles. The P8P introduction is described as a "second release."

The advantages of the PCM devices over those NOR flash memories that they can drop-in replace, are stated to be byte alterable programming, no erase required, over-write capability and one million write cycles or 10x the endurance capability of flash.

Byte alterability provides for easier data manipulation and software simplification by eliminating the need for erasing large blocks of data. The over-write or no-erase function enables engineers and designers to simplify software designs and accelerate system performance, improving the time it takes to program a device by up to 300x, Numonyx claimed.

"The P8P is roughly equivalent in performance to the NOR device it can replace but it does have a synchronous burst mode of operation. The P5Q serial part can operate at clock frequency of up to 66MHz," said Cliff Smith, business development manager for phase-change memory at Numonyx.

The best chance of design wins for these relatively low capacity non-volatile memories are likely to come where use of PCM can save on parts count. "Today, designers have to use different memory types for code storage and execution, as well as data storage. Now, with Numonyx Omneo PCM, they have a simple, one-device solution." said Glen Hawk, Numonyx VP and general manager of the embedded business group, in a statement.

Numonyx gave a STB example, where a single 12Mbit Omneo part could replace a 128Mbit serial NOR flash and a couple of 1Mbit EEPROMs. A second example was given in telecoms and smart meters where a NOR flash and battery-backed SRAM could be replaced by an Omneo P8P device.

However, phase-change memory is sensitive to temperature and cannot usually be used across a full industrial temperature range and cannot be used pre-programmed where parts will have to go through soldering operations.

The Omneo range is intended for use across multiple markets from consumer to industrial electronics. The company is also working on phase-change memories with DDR-style interfaces for use in mobile applications.

Smith said future parts in the Omneo range would be implemented using 45nm process technology.

Both the existing Omneo products are available in volume; the P8P in a 56-pin TSOP or a 64-ball BGA and the P5Q in a 16-pin SOIC package. Numonyx declined to give pricing.

- Peter Clarke
EE Times

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