MUNICH, Germany A consortium of research institutes is fathoming out the properties of several materials and semiconducting mechanisms as alternatives to the DRAM technology.
Since the classical semiconductor shrink strategy will hit the wall when 22nm geometries are reached around the year 2016, a team of researchers has started to get granular on alternatives. The research is conducted within the IKT2020 initiative of the German government and funded with 8.5 million (about $11.9 million) over the next three years.
Researchers from five academic institutes and companies, most of them based in the Dresden area, will check out several technology options. While in DRAM memories electrical charges are used to store energy, the researchers will evaluate if technologies based on permanent resistance changes in oxide or organic materials could do the trick. For the same reason, the researchers are looking at magnetization changes in ferromagnetic materials.
With regard to magnetic memories, a Forschungszentrum Rossendorf spokesperson said their approach aims at achieving the magnetizing effect directly through current instead of through magnetic fields which would enable technologists to shrink devices far beyond current MRAM approaches.
The common denominator of these approaches would be that the respective memory technologies would not need electric energy to maintain their information. The research activities also aim at technologies that could be used in CMOS-compatible industrial processes and offer the perspective to shrink the memory cells beyond the abovementioned limit.
The primary responsibility to coordinate the research is associated to Forschungszentrum Rossendorf (Dresden) which already is active in the research of spintronics, another emerging alternative to conventional semiconductor technology. Other institutions included in the activities are the Dresden Technical University, industrial research center Innovent e.V, based in Jena, and NamLab GmBH (Dresden), a former joint venture between Qimonda and the Dresden Technical University which now is owned by the latter. Semiconductor manufacturer Globalfoundries is also involved; the foundry acts as industrial adviser.
Related articles and links:
Ion beam creates high-density magnetic storage
MRAM startup qualifies production
Researchers tout memory advance, offer prospect of 300 million tune MP3 player
IBM, Zurich university build joint nanotech lab