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NRAM poised for the big time, says researcher

Non volatile memories based on carbon-nanotube technology could prove more disruptive in enterprise and consumer applications than flash memory, according to BCC Research. With the technology scheduled for commercialisation in 2018, the researcher expects a wave of innovation, with potential applications including consumer electronics, mobile computing, IoT devices, enterprise storage automotive.

The technology has been developed by US company Nantero, which calls the approach NRAM. According to the company, NRAM is as fast as and denser than DRAM, nonvolatile like flash and has ‘essentially zero power consumption’ in standby mode. Compatible with existing CMOS processes, the technology is said to scale to the 5nm node and beyond.

Despite NRAM being in development for at least a decade, investors appear to have faith in Nantero, which has raised more than $110million, of which $21m came at the end of 2016.

BCC Research’s editorial director Kevin Fitzgerald cites the ability of NRAM to consolidate DRAM with flash memory as a key factor that should drive huge demand for the technology. “It is rare to see a technology catch fire after so long in development, but NRAM appears poised to do just that.”

Nantero has also signed a licensing agreement that allows Fujitsu to make NRAM devices. Masato Matsumiya, vice president of Fujitsu Semiconductor, commented: “The combination of Nantero’s technology with our design and production capabilities promises to meet the long standing needs of our customers for non-volatile memory that is higher density, faster, more energy efficient and with a higher rewrite cycle.”

BCC Research says global demand for NRAM could grow at a compound annual growth rate of 62.5% from 2018, reaching a value of $850million in 2023, with the embedded systems market consuming more than $200m worth of products in 2023.

Graham Pitcher

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