LONDON -- Numonyx BV (Geneva, Switerland), the non-volatile memory supplier formed in 2008 from the memory businesses of Intel Corp. and STMicroelectronics, has decided to re-enter the 5-V part of the automotive flash memory business.
The move, due to be announced at the Embedded Systems Conference, should provide drop-in replacement parts for many memories that Spansion Inc. (Sunnyvale, Calif.) put on a last-time buy notice on Dec. 16, 2008. Such discrete memories are used to hold the code that runs in engine control units (ECUs) and 5-V operation is still commonplace in more extreme environments under the hood.
Numonyx is introducing the M29F family of NOR flash memories, which are JEDEC Spansion command-set compatible and will be made in 2-, 4-, 8- and 16-Mbit capacities in TSOP-48 and SO-44 packages and qualified over the automotive temperature range up to +125 degrees C. The devices are going to be made on a 110-nm process technology at the Numonyx wafer fab in Singapore, according to Jeff Bader, director of the embedded business group at Numonyx. "We're looking to sample in June with mass production with full automotive qualification in September," he said.
The move represents a turn-around for Numonyx, albeit one that will be welcome in the automotive sector. Numonyx had a originally decided at formation to pull out of this market and buyers at automotive subsystem companies had been facing last-time buy decisions after Spansion issued its notice.
"With the formation of Numonyx we had a large number of parts drawn from both the Intel and ST product lines. We had to go look at process technologies and see which processes we were going to move into our new network of fabs. For the ex-ST products it was decided we couldn't maintain the 5-volt line," said Bader.
However, there were several customers who were on "build-ahead" agreements which Numonyx has continued to supply, said Bader. "So we've been looking at the 5-V opportunity for a while."
"No-one likes end-of-life but it is a natural part of the semiconductor world," said Bader.
But Numonyx' change of mind, will also benefit industrial customers who may want to stay with 5-V operation. "We are going to service the standard embedded market, the industrial market, from these automotive parts," said Bill Stafford, marketing manager for embedded business at Numonyx.
Numonyx already has a range of NOR flash memories with automotive qualification that operate at lower voltages.