At the 64th International Conference on Electronic Devices (IEDM), Intel and Samsung, the world's two leading semiconductor companies, showcased new technologies in embedded MRAM in the logic chip manufacturing process.
MRAM (Magnetic Random Access Memory) is a non-volatile memory technology that has been developed since the 1990s. This technology is close to the high-speed read and write capability of static random memory, with non-volatile flash memory, capacity density and lifetime without DRAM, but the average energy consumption is much lower than DRAM, and basically unlimited. Write repeatedly.
Intel has said that its embedded MRAM technology can achieve up to 10 years of memory at 200 degrees Celsius and achieves persistence in more than 106 switching cycles. And in its 22 FFL process, Intel describes the key features of STT-MRAM (MRAM-based spin transfer torque) non-volatile memory. Intel called it "the first FinFET-based MRAM technology.
This technology can be equivalent to the "ready to prepare" phase. Intel has not disclosed the process information to any OEM customers, but from a variety of sources, this technology has already been adopted in the products currently being shipped.
As for Samsung, it also claims that its 8Mb MRAM has a battery life of 106 and a memory period of 10 years. Samsung technology will initially be used in IoT applications. Yoon Jong Song, chief engineer at Samsung R&D Center, said reliability must be improved before it can be used in automotive and industrial applications. Samsung has successfully transferred technology from the laboratory to the factory and will commercialize it in the near future.
Samsung also announced on the 28nm FDSOI platform that STT-MRAM is currently considered to be the best MRAM technology in terms of scalability, shape dependence, and magnetic scalability.
What is MRAM?
According to EETIME, MRAM technology has been developed since the 1990s, but has not yet achieved widespread commercial success. Yoon Jong Song, chief engineer of the Samsung R&D Center, said: "I think it's time to showcase MRAM's manufacturing and commercialization results!" Song is also the lead author of the company's papers in IEDM.
As the industry continues to move toward smaller technology nodes, DRAM and NAND flash memory face the tough micro-shock challenges, MRAM is seen as an alternative stand-alone component that is expected to replace these memory chips. In addition, this non-volatile memory is also considered an attractive embedded technology due to its fast read/write time, high tolerance, and strong retention, suitable for replacing Flash and embedded SRAM. Embedded MRAM is considered to be particularly well suited for applications such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
The main reason is that it has fast read write time, high durability and excellent retention. Embedded MRAM is considered to be particularly suitable for applications such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices, as well as for 5G generation trains.
Embedded MRAM is gaining more attention from consumer products as manufacturing costs decline and other memory technologies face scalability challenges. Importantly, with the development of new process technologies, the size of SRAM cells does not shrink with the rest of the process. From this point of view, MRAM is becoming more and more attractive.
Since last year, Globalfoundries has been supplying embedded MRAM with its 22FDX 22-nm FD-SOI process. But Jim Handy, principal analyst at Objective Analysis, said he did not notice any commercial product launches using Globalfoundries embedded MRAM technology.
He said: "The reason no one is using is that they must also add new materials to them.
But as manufacturing costs drop and other memory technologies face the challenge of shrinking, embedded MRAM is becoming more popular. Handy said: "The important thing is that with the advancement of new process technology, the size of the SRAM memory cell will not shrink with the subsequent advanced process, so MRAM will become more and more attractive.
UMC also looks at MRAM
Foundry Ernst (2303) and next-generation ST-MRAM (self-rotational-shift magnetoresistive RAM) manufacturer Avalanche announced that the two companies have become partners to jointly develop and produce replacement embedded memory. Magnetoresistive Random Access Memory (MRAM). At the same time, UMC will also provide technology to other companies through the authorization of Avalanche. According to this cooperation agreement, UMC provides embedded non-volatile MRAM blocks on 28nm CMOS processes for customers to integrate low-latency, ultra-high-performance and low-power embedded MRAM memory modules into application products. Networking, wearables, consumer products, and microcontrollers (MCUs) and system-on-a-chip (SoCs) for the industrial and automotive electronics markets.
UMC also mentioned that the two companies are also considering extending the scope of cooperation to process technologies below 28 nm, using Avalanche's compatible and scalable features in CMOS technology for use in advanced processes. These unified memory (non-volatile and static random access memory SRAM) can be smoothly transferred to the next generation of highly integrated microcontrollers (MCUs) and system-on-a-chip (SoC). In this way, the system designer can directly modify the same architecture and associated software system without redesigning.
Petro Estakhri, CEO and co-founder of Avalanche, said: "We are very pleased that the team has a world-class semiconductor wafer specialist like UMC," said Deputy General Hong Guiyu of UMC Advanced Technology Department. Embedded non-volatile memory NVM solutions are gaining popularity in today's chip design industry, and the foundry industry has built strong and solid embedded solutions for high-growth industries such as emerging consumer and automotive electronics applications. Non-volatile memory solution portfolio. UMC is pleased to work with Avalanche to develop 28nm MRAM, and is looking forward to pushing this cooperation process to the mass production phase of UMC customers.