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Non-volatile memory choices down to 2, firm says.

LYON, FRANCE -- "The technological choice between STTMRAM/MRAM and RRAM will be made in the next two years." That's according to a new report from technology research firm Yole Developpement.

The company's latest report on the non-volatile memory forecasts how emerging NVM technologies will be increasingly used in various markets, including industrial and transportation; enterprise storage; wearable; mobile devices; mass storage, and MCU smart card.

In the long-term, Yole says, spin-transfer torque magnetoresistive RAM (STTMRAM) is sure to be the only candidate to substitute DRAM thanks to its high endurance. Resistive random access memory (RRAM or ReRAM) is sure to substitute NAND thanks to its high scalability and low cost.

"Still, emerging NVM sales are modest at $65 million in 2014 and limited to niche markets due to the limited density available," said Yann de Charentenay, senior technology and market analyst at Yole.

In 2014, Micron, the main phase-change memory (PCM) promoter for standalone memory, stopped actively selling PCM chips following the collapse of sales targeting the shrinking entry-level mobile phone market. At the same time, Micron developed an RRAM chip with Sony, part of a technology class that includes conductive bridge RAM (CBRAM), Yole says.

At 16Gb the Micron-Sony RRAM has the highest density commercialized among emerging NVM technologies. Thus, Yole believes that PCM is now out of the race for standalone memory.

For embedded MCU applications, 2015 will be a key year, as STMicroelectronics, the main PCM promoter in this market, will choose if PCM will remain in its roadmap, Yole predicts.

The report focuses on what Yole deems the two most promising technologies: RRAM and magnetoresistive RAM (MRAM). The most attractive category of MRAM, STTMRAM, provides higher scalability/density. A main selection criterion for memory is the scalability/density of the chips, as this impacts both performance and cost. The two types will compete in 2015 and 2016 in some standalone markets, with storage class memory for enterprise storage being the biggest one. They will also compete in embedded MCU markets in the wearable, smart card and other markets. Micron has already selected RRAM for 2015, and other key standalone players like Samsung and SK Hynix should react quickly. In the embedded memory space, only Panasonic has selected RRAM, and many key players have not yet made their choice. There is still high uncertainty over what will be the best technology to adopt. The next two years will therefore be critical, the firm concludes.

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Title Annotation:AROUND THE WORLD
Author:Buetow, Mike
Publication:Printed Circuit Design & Fab Circuits Assembly
Date:Mar 1, 2015
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