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Magnetic appeal

Joint venture takes mram to 0.18um process. Vanessa Knivett reports.

Prototypes of what is said to be the smallest magnetoresistive ram (mram) devices produced to date were presented by Altis Semiconductor – the IBM and Infineon Technologies' European joint venture – at the recent VSLI Symposium in Japan. The company believes it is now close to the 'industrial phase' for mram.
The prototypes feature a 128kbit mram core and have been made on a 0.18um logic process – the smallest design rules yet used. The memory cells are 1.4um2 in size. Further work will be carried out at IBM's Essonnes facility near Paris.

Mram is not only non volatile, it also promises lower power consumption by storing more information and accessing it faster. Altis now thinks that mram could begin replacing existing memory technologies by 2005, according to the companies. For more on mram, see Engineering Watch in New Electronics' 13 May issue.
Intel claimed at VLSI it has developed an oscillator running at 5GHz using its its 0.18um digital cmos process. Intel also announced the development of a 10GHz synthesiser on the same process. Typically, these components have been made on analogue processes. Moving them to a standard cmos process will, it says, reduce the cost of integrating wireless communications in the future.

* Meanwhile, Toshiba announced it had developed and verified an embedded dram architecture suitable for production on silicon on insulator (soi) wafers. Toshiba aims to apply the new technology to mass production of system lsis for broadband network applications in 2006.

Graham Pitcher

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