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STT-RAM geared to displace DRAM, flash

Posted: 11 Jun 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:DRAM? NAND flash? Spin transfer torque random access memory? STT-RAM?

Spin transfer torque random access memory (STT-RAM) technology developer Grandis Inc. has updated its product roadmap with some ambitious efforts in mind: It hopes to replace DRAM, and eventually, NAND, with its next-generation magnetoresistive RAM (MRAM).

But the company's roadmap has been altered to some degree, according to an analyst, who believes that it takes longer than expected to bring a new memory technology to market.

Intellectual-property (IP) and device house Grandis has been developing STT-RAM, which is said to combine the cost benefits of DRAM, the fast read and write performance of SRAM, and the non-volatility of flash. STT-RAM is also said to solve the key drawbacks of first-generation, field-switched MRAM.

In a recent interview at its headquarters, Farhad Tabrizi, president and CEO of Grandis, was not shy about the company's ambitions. "We are focusing on the commercialization of STT-RAM," he said.

"STT-RAM has a huge potential market as a universal, scalable memory," Tabrizi said. "It can replace embedded SRAM and flash at 45nm, DRAM at 32nm, and ultimately replace NAND."

Grandis' STT-RAM is a promising technology, but time will tell if the company can live up to its promises. "It's a question of economics whether STT-RAM will replace DRAM or NAND," said Gregory Wong, an analyst with Forward Insights.

For years, developers of FeRAM, MRAM, phase-change memory (PCM), RRAM and other technologies have separately claimed that they would become the ultimate universal memory and replace today's memories. But many of the next-generation memory types are late to market and have not lived up to the hype. And, of course, today's memories continue to scale, thereby pushing out the need for next-generation memory types.

"There's a lot of opportunity for any of these new technologiessuch asferroelectric RAM;, MRAM and PCMto replace existing technologies. All they have to do is drop to a lower cost than the established memory. Although I make this sound easy, it's in fact tremendously difficult, a challenge that has prevented any of these technologies from reaching critical mass," said Jim Handy, an analyst with Objective-Analysis.

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