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Oct.3.2016-【TAIWANCN/HKASEANMRAM Is Becoming Mainstream Memory


Two announcements this week on Magnetic Random Access Memory (MRAM) by Everspin and its manufacturing partner, Global Foundries, accelerate the move of this emerging memory from the lab to the fab. Major new product introductions for stand-alone and embedded memory are expected to serve a variety of consumer, industrial and enterprise applications.


Everspin, the major company shipping stand-alone MRAM memory chips, has filed for an IPO. The company intends to raise up to $45 M and start trading on the NASDAQ with the ticker symbol, MRAM. It its S-1 Form filing, required for an IPO, the company said it generated $26.5 M in revenue in 2015, up from $24.9 M in 2014. The net loss was $18.2 M in 2015, up from $10.2 M in 2014. In the first six months of 2016 Everspin had a net loss of $10 M.<!–donotpaginate00>


Everspin expects that the MRAM market to start ramping up in 2018, reaching over $1.7 B, with the ramp up mostly for Spin Tunnel Torque MRAM (STT-MRAM) products. The biggest growth is expected for the Perpendicular Magnetic Tunnel Junction (pMTJ) STT-MRAM. The company plans to start sampling 1 Gb pMTJ STT-MRAM chips in 2017. pMTJ STT-MRAM offers improved performance, higher endurance, lower power and better scalability to the prior generation products. The image below shows an MRAM DIMM memory device.


In late 2014 Everspin signed a production agreement for MRAM technologies with Global Foundries. Global Foundries was to produce Everspin’s MRAM products on 300 mm wafers. This brought a new level of scale to the creation of MRAM chips making this memory technology, which is as fast as many volatile RAMs, has extremely high write endurance while having write speeds much higher than flash memory, attractive to a lot more applications. Since the agreement there have been a number of public announcements of products for caching and buffering applications.


At the recent 2016 Flash Memory Summit a young company, Aupera revealed an MRAM –enabled M.2 Storage Module using Everspin’s 256 Mb pMTJ STT-MRAM chips. An array of these 128 MB modules is a hardware accelerator for applications that require low latency and high performance such as real-time visual computing applications.


While Everspin is focusing on stand-alone chip applications, Global Foundries is creating a new line of embedded MRAM applications, based up on the pMTJ STT-MRAM technology. The company announced that it is embedding MRAM on its 22FDX platform, targeted at major emerging applications like battery powered consumer devices, IoT, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and Vision Processing. The 22FDX eMRAM features the ability to retain data through 260 degree C solder reflow and industrial temperature operation, important for use in conventional embedded products.


The 22FDX platform leverages the Global Foundry 22nm full-depleted silicon-on-insulator (FD-SOI) technology. The eMRAM is designed for both code storage (like flash) and working memory (like SRAM) to enable energy efficient memory sub-systems that can be power cycled without any energy or performance penalty. Global Foundries says that the power efficiency of FDXand eMRAM, coupled with the available RF connectivity IP, makes 22FDX an ideal platform for battery-powered IoT products and automotive MCUs.


MRAM technology has been under development for decades with pioneering production by companies like Everspin. The Everspin and Global Foundries partnership on stand-alone and embedded MRAM memory are poised to change the role of fast non-volatile memory in many applications. MRAM will enable entire new efficiencies and performance and the development of spin-based memories could ultimately lead to entire new computing platforms, based upon magnetic spin rather than current.


Tom Coughlin consults and writes on digital storage and applications. He is chairman of the Storage Visions, Creative Storage Conferences as well as the Flash Memory Summit,