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Crocus to begin production with SRAM, sensor offering

Posted: 10 Oct 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Crocus? microcontroller? MRAM? SRAM?

Magnetic memory technology developer Crocus Technologies announced that it will begin production of its first products this year. The company will begin with non-volatile SRAMs and will eventually move into magnetic sensor-amplifiers before debuting a microcontroller with MRAM as on-chip non-volatile memory.

Jacques Noel, company founder and member of the board, told delegates at the International Electronics Forum that production would begin in 2013 at both its foundry Tower Semiconductor and through its joint venture Russian manufacturing site.

In a conversation on the sidelines of the conference, Noel stated that Crocus would start with 1Mbit and 4Mbit non-volatile SRAM using 130nm process technology moving quickly to 90nm. In the 90nm process flow the company's thermally-assisted switching MRAM (TAS-MRAM) only requires two additional mask layers and supports operation at up to 250C with exceptional cycling endurance (see table below).


A comparison of non-volatile memory technologies.
Source: Crocus Technology.

A non-volatile SRAM has an active front page of SRAM that can interface directly and rapidly with other logic while having the addressing logic to allow many more pages of non-volatile memory to be stored and called forward to the SRAM page as required. The result is a memory that has the speed attributes of an SRAM but the non-volatility of an MRAM.

Soon after offering this Crocus will deploy its Magnetic Logic Unit (MLU) technology within magnetic sensor technology. The MLU implements both memory and logic functions and allows the TAS-MRAM technology to support security applications and high temperature operation. Noel said the MLU amplifier plus magnetic sensor, which is also known as the MLU-sensplifier, would be constructed as a drop-in replacement for established sensor types such as Hall, AMR and GMR sensors. The MLU-sensplifier shows higher sensitivity and for use in strong magnetic fields where other sensors would saturate or be destroyed. The MLU-Sensplifier works from 100nT up to 1T and supports high temperature operation and CMOS integration.

Noel told the conference that in 2014 millions of MRAM-based products would ship from Crocus. After that Crocus plans to introduce a TAS-MRAM support microcontroller. When asked if Crocus intended to license an ARM core in pursuit of that goal Noel said that decision was still pending.

Crocus is a result of the commercialisation of magnetic technology originally developed at CEA-Leti and in partnership with the Spintec research laboratories based in Grenoble, France. Crocus announced in May 2011 that it had agreed to a collaborative project with Rusnano, the Russian state-controlled nanotechnology investment agency, with a funding budget of $300 million that includes the creation of an MRAM manufacturing facility in Russia.

As a result Crocus has two manufacturing options; to use Tower in Israel for complete manufacturing flow or to move wafers between Crocus Nanoelectronics (CNE) in Russia and SMIC in China. CNE is able to lay down the magnetic layers while SMIC provides base CMOS and standard CMOS processing, Noel said.

- Peter Clarke
??EE Times

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