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Future memories continue to occupy our minds

There have been many attempts to develop the next generation of memory technology, but progress has been slow, to say the least. What companies are trying to do is to produce a technology which is as cheap as DRAM, as fast as SRAM and which is non volatile like flash.

One of these approaches is resistive RAM (RRAM), which has been in development for about 10 years. In 2013, RRAM pioneer Crossbar announced its technology, claiming it could store 1Tbyte of data on 200m2 of CMOS silicon. At the time, it also announced it was working with a ‘commercial fab’. It added that RRAM was x20 faster, consumed x20 less power and had x10 the endurance of RAM from a smaller area.

Now comes news of a deal that will see Crossbar’s RRAM technology available on SMIC’s 40nm process, allowing those developing MCUs and SoCs to integrate the memory.

There’s a big step between licensing technology to a fab and it being used in a design, but the fact the deal has been made is encouraging.

Meanwhile, speculation continues about the state of development of Intel and Micron’s 3D Xpoint memory, announced in July 2015. Apart from saying they were launching 3D Xpoint, the companies said little else; even when samples might be available. However, Facebook engineers are said to have seen ‘working samples’, but they appear to be the only ones so far.

One thing is clear; there is huge demand for next generation memory and there is a race to be the company that can satisfy that demand.

Graham Pitcher

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