MILPITAS, Calif. -- Is the clock ticking for today’s memories?
Grandis Inc.--a developer of spin transfer torque random access memory (STT-RAM) technology--has updated its product roadmap with some ambitious efforts in mind: It hopes to replace DRAM, and eventually, NAND, with its next-generation MRAM.
But the company’s roadmap has been altered to some degree, according to an analyst, who believes that it takes longer than expected to bring a new memory technology to market.
Intellectual-property (IP) and device house Grandis has been developing STT-RAM, which is said to combine the cost benefits of DRAM, the fast read and write performance of SRAM, and the non-volatility of flash. STT-RAM is also said to solve the key drawbacks of first-generation, field-switched MRAM.
In a recent interview at its headquarters, Farhad Tabrizi, president and CEO of Grandis, was not shy about the company’s ambitions. ''We are focusing on the commercialization of STT-RAM,’’ he said.
''STT-RAM has a huge potential market as a universal, scalable memory,’’ Tabrizi said. ''It can replace embedded SRAM and flash at 45-nm, DRAM at 32-nm, and ultimately replace NAND.’’
Grandis’ STT-RAM is a promising technology, but time will tell if the company can live up to its promises. ''It’s a question of economics whether STT-RAM will replace DRAM or NAND,’’ said Gregory Wong, an analyst with Forward Insights.
For years, developers of FeRAM, MRAM, phase-change, RRAM and other technologies have separately claimed that they would become the ultimate universal memory and replace today’s memories. But many of the next-generation memory types are late to market and have not lived up to the hype. And, of course, today’s memories continue to scale, thereby pushing out the need for next-generation memory types.
''There's a lot of opportunity for any of these new technologies--such as --FRAM, MRAM and PCM--to replace existing technologies. All they have to do is drop to a lower cost than the established memory. Although I make this sound easy, it's in fact tremendously difficult, a challenge that has prevented any of these technologies from reaching critical mass,’’ said Jim Handy, an analyst with Objective-Analysis.