IBM, Infineon develop most advanced MRAM technology to date.IBM (International Business Machines Corporation, Armonk, NY, www.ibm.com) The world's largest computer company. IBM's product lines include the S/390 mainframes (zSeries), AS/400 midrange business systems (iSeries), RS/6000 workstations and servers (pSeries), Intel-based servers (xSeries) and Infineon Technologies For the raceway, see .
Infineon Technologies AG (ISIN: DE0006231004, FWB: IFX, NYSE: IFX) was founded in April 1999 when the semiconductor operations of parent company, Siemens AG, were spun off to form a separate legal entity. AG (FSE/NYSE: IFX IFX - ["Type Reconstruction with First-Class Polymorphic Values", J. O'Toole et al, SIGPLAN Notices 24(7):207-217 (Jul 1989)]. ) has announced that they have developed the most advanced Magnetic Random Access Memory (MRAM (Magnetic RAM) A non-volatile, random access memory technology that is designed to initially replace flash memory and, potentially, DRAM memory. MRAM uses magnetic, thin film elements on a silicon substrate that can be built on the same chip with the logic circuits. ) technology to date by integrating magnetic memory components into a high-performance logic base.
This could accelerate the commercialization of MRAM, a breakthrough memory technology with the potential to begin replacing some of today's memory technologies as early as 2005. MRAM could lead to 'instant on' computers, allowing users to turn computers on and off as quickly as a light switch.
At the VLSI VLSI: see integrated circuit.
(1) (Very Large Scale Integration) Between 100,000 and one million transistors on a chip. See SSI, MSI, LSI and ULSI.
(2) (VLSI Technology, Inc., Tempe, AZ, www.semiconductors. Symposia taking place here this week, IBM and Infineon are presenting their high-speed 128Kbit MRAM core. It is fabricated with a 0.18 micron logic-based process technology, the smallest size reported to date for MRAM technology. This small base enabled IBM and Infineon to incorporate the smallest MRAM memory-cell size of 1.4 square microns, which is about 20 million times smaller than the average pencil eraser top. By accurately patterning the magnetic structures within this small cell, IBM and Infineon researchers were able to control the memory reading and writing operations.
A memory technology that uses magnetic, rather than electronic, charges to store bits of data, MRAM could significantly improve portable computing products by storing more information, accessing it faster and using less battery power than the electronic memory used today. MRAM combines the best features of today's common memory technologies: the storage capacity and low-cost of Dynamic RAM The most common type of computer memory. Dynamic RAM (DRAM, D-RAM) chips are very dense because they use only one transistor and one storage capacitor for each bit. Unlike non-volatile firmware chips (ROM, EEPROM, flash, etc. (DRAM), the high speed of Static RAM A fast memory technology that requires power to hold its content. Static RAM (SRAM, S-RAM) is used for high-speed registers, caches and relatively small memory banks such as a frame buffer on a display adapter. (SRAM See static RAM.
SRAM - static random-access memory ), and the non-volatility of flash memory. Since MRAM retains information when power is turned off, products like personal computers using it could start up instantly, without waiting for software to "boot up".
IBM's MRAM work complements its pioneering and ongoing development of advanced embedded DRAM memory, which is commercially available today and offers advantages over traditional SRAM.
"MRAM has the potential to become the universal memory technology of the future," said Dr. T. C. Chen, VP Science and Technology, IBM Research IBM Research, a division of IBM, is a research and advanced development organization and currently consists of eight locations throughout the world and hundreds of projects. . "This breakthrough demonstrates that MRAM technology is rapidly maturing and could fundamentally alter the entire memory marketplace within the next few years."
"Nonvolatile memory See non-volatile memory. technologies like MRAM will play a major role in technology lifestyle solutions and we want to be the number one semiconductor company in this area by having a product demonstrator jointly developed with IBM available early 2004. Together with Altis Semiconductor, a joint venture of IBM and Infineon, we will pave the way for production readiness of MRAM as early as 2005," said Dr. Wilhelm Beinvogl, CTO (Chief Technical Officer) The executive responsible for the technical direction of an organization. See CIO and salary survey. of the Memory Product Division, Infineon.
The non-volatility attribute of MRAM carries significant implications, especially for mobile computing devices. Memory technologies like DRAM and SRAM require constant electrical power to retain stored data. When power is cut off, all data in memory is lost. A laptop computer, for example, works from a copy of its software stored in memory. When turned on, a working version of the software is copied from the hard-disk drive into memory, so the user can access it quickly. Every time the power is turned off and then back on, the process must start over. By using MRAM, the laptop could work more like other electronic devices such as a television or radio: turn the power on and the machine jumps almost instantly to life with settings just as you had left them.
Non-volatility can save power as well. Since MRAM will not need constant power to keep the data intact, it could consume much less than current random access memory technologies, extending the battery life of cell phones, handheld devices, laptops and other battery powered products.
The high-speed attribute of MRAM means that electronic products can more quickly access data, and MRAM's high-density means greater storage capacity.