LONDON South Korean DRAM maker Hynix Semiconductor Inc. has licensed floating-body single-transistor memory technology from Innovative Silicon Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.) for use in future generations of DRAM chips.
Innovative's deal is worth more than $10 million in terms of initial license and engineering fees and could result in DRAMs based on the firm's Z-RAM technology coming from Hynix within about three years, according to Mark-Eric Jones, ISi CEO. Hynix joins Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (Sunnyvale, Calif.) as a licensee of the floating-body technology.
"From the ISi perspective I see it very much as a replacement technology for the 1T1C [one transistor, one capacitor] DRAM bit cell," said Jones, adding that the technology would allow DRAM to continue to scale, albeit on SOI wafers. The Z-RAM-based DRAMs will use a single transistor bitcell, rather than a combination of transistors and capacitor elements, representing the first fundamental change to the DRAM bit cell since the bifurcation into stacked and trench capacitor devices in the 1980s.
The technology was first licensed, in December 2005, by AMD for upcoming microprocessor designs. Now, the engagement with Hynix positions Z-RAM to become the lowest-cost memory technology in a $30 billion market, ISi said.
"Z-RAM promises to provide an elegant approach to manufacture dense DRAMs on nanometer processes," said Sung-Joo Hong, vice president of R&D at Hynix. "We see the potential to create a new platform of products based on ISi’s innovation of Z-RAM that will help us maintain and grow our leadership position in the memory market."
Z-RAM’s one transistor memory bitcell is made possible by harnessing the floating body effect (FBE) found in circuits fabricated using SOI (silicon-on-insulator) wafers. ISi (Santa Clara, Calif.) has claimed that Z-RAM can achieve five times the density of embedded SRAM, the conventional memory choice for on-chip caches, and twice the density of embedded DRAM.
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