The funding is intended to help Intrinsic disrupt the $60bn non-volatile memory market by partnering with semiconductor research foundry, imec in Belgium, to develop prototypes of its proprietary nonvolatile memory devices using industry standard ‘complementary metal oxide semiconductor’ (CMOS) processing on 300mm silicon wafers.
Non-volatile memory is used in a large and ever-increasing range of electronic products. It is the permanent memory used in smartphones, laptops, USB sticks, cameras, SSD hard drives etc. and is based on the technology known as ‘Flash’ memory.
At the heart of Intrinsic’s technology is a ‘memristor’, also known as ReRAM or RRAM, invented by the company’s founders, Professor Tony Kenyon and Dr Adnan Mehonic, researchers in the field of nanoelectronics and materials science. Supported by commercialisation arm UCL Business, they spun out their research to create Intrinsic.
Due to the incompatibility with the current manufacturing processes, it is very difficult and costly to integrate Flash memory technology in the same semiconductor chip as the processor. This limitation severely impacts power consumption, increases cost, and is hampering the development of new applications in the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial intelligence (AI); areas which require lower power, more performance and higher memory capacity.
Intrinsic’s memory technology is based on the same materials as the CMOS chip itself, such as silicon oxide, which removes a key limitation.
Intrinsic’s memory is said to be easier to integrate and inherently faster and more power efficient than Flash and will provide a huge improvement to the power consumption and cost of future devices that will drive an increasing range of everyday products and services.
Commenting Professor Tony Kenyon, Co-Founder of Intrinsic and Professor of Nanoelectronic & Nanophotonic Materials, said: “Existing memory technologies, such as Flash, are reaching the limits of their capabilities - particularly in embedded systems such as those we need in IoT devices. Intrinsic’s memristor technology will transform next generation systems by combining high performance with ease of integration in digital CMOS. By basing our devices on silicon oxide, we ensure that they are as simple and as cheap to integrate with silicon-based electronics as it is possible to be."