SAN JOSE, Calif. -- A new MRAM startup has emerged and entered the race to commercialize spin transfer torque RAM (STT-RAM or STT-MRAM) technology.
The startup, Avalanche Technology Inc. (Fremont, Calif.), joins a growing list of companies looking to devise the technology, including Everspin, Grandis, Hynix, IBM-TDK, Samsung, Toshiba, among others.
''STT MRAM is a very exciting technology,'' said Yiming Huai, vice president of technology at Avalanche. ''All players involved in this field are working very hard on different technologies to deliver a promised universal solution by overcoming deep challenges.''
In 2002, Huai said he co-founded Grandis Inc., a pioneer in STT-RAM technology. From 2002 to 2008, he served as chief technology officer and vice president of engineering at Grandis (Freemont, Calif.)
In an interview, he said that Avalanche and Grandis have completely different models. For the most part, Grandis licenses its intellectual property (IP) to vendors, but the firm has dropped hints about making standalone STT-RAM devices.
In contrast, Avalanche plans to produce a standalone STT-RAM, reportedly at the 65-nm node. The company plans to roll out a product within the next ''two years,'' he added, without elaborating.
If or when it hits the market, STT-RAM or STT-MRAM claims to be a breakthrough ''universal memory'' that combines the advantages of DRAM and nonvolatile devices. FRAM, phase-change memory, RRAM and others make similar claims.
STT-MRAM is a second-generation magnetic-RAM technology that is said to solve some of the problems posed by conventional MRAM structures. Most MRAMs that are now being developed write data by applying the magnetic field generated by a current running through a wire near a tunneling magnetoresistive (TMR) element to change the magnetization. That enables fast operation, but gobbles up power.
The STT method, by contrast, uses a spin-polarized current to switch magnetic bits, a technique that is said to consume less power and enhances scalability. An STT-RAM writes data by aligning the spin direction of the electrons flowing through the TMR element.