LONDON A reversible resistance change process observed in thin oxide films has enabled the creation of a novel form of non-volatile memory that could come to market as a test product this year, according to a technology analysis report from Web-Feet Research.
Resistive RAM (RRAM) development is a focus for several device manufacturers because it promises high density, low cost and low power consumption, according to semiconductor production equipment maker Tegal Corp. (Petaluma, Calif.), which has provided equipment to researchers. Like many other technologies before it, RRAM promises to provide a replacement for flash memory, if and when that technology should have problems scaling.
Although companies are reluctant to build products around immature or incompletely understood materials and processes, the size of the non-volatile memory market is such that companies are also fearful of missing out on a potential next-generation driver for a multi-billion-dollar market.
The buzz around RRAM has already stimulated dozens of patent applications in the United States alone and numerous semiconductor companies are researching the topic and developing proprietary oxide films for inclusion in standard CMOS processes.
The technology could go on to form the basis of a commercial product in 2008, according to a Japanese website which includes the key findings of the Web-Feet study on its website to promote sales of the research report. Only those technologies and technology variations that could be productized within the next five years are analyzed in this study which was published in 2005.
Companies investigating RRAM include Sharp Corp., Sony Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., LSI Logic Corp., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., and Winbond Electronics Corp., according to a review of U.S. patents granted and applied for.