SAN FRANCISCO—Ramtron International Corp. said Wednesday (May 25) it is broadly sampling the first pre-qualification ferroelectric random access memory (FRAM) devices built on the company's manufacturing line at IBM Corp.
Ramtron, which entered into a foundry services agreement with IBM in 2009, initially expected to generate the first production wafers on the IBM 0.18-micron wafer manufacturing process in 2010. However, IBM encountered difficulties ramping up production of the chips, causing delays.
Ramtron CEO Eric Balzer acknowledged last month that customers were displeased by the delays, though he added that most of them remained Ramtron customers. Blazer said Supply constraints hurt Ramtron's first quarter sales.
"Releasing samples of the FM24C04C and FM24C16C devices is a significant milestone in our new foundry program," Balzer said in a statement issued Wednesday.
According to Ramtron, the FM24C04C and FM24C16C are serial 5-volt devices with 4- and 16-kilobits of FRAM memory, respectively. The devices offer a high-performance nonvolatile data collection and storage solution for electronic systems, the company said. Ramtron maintains that its FRAM products nonvolatile RAM memory performance with fast write times, high read/write endurance and low power consumption.
"These pre-qualification devices, which meet all datasheet specifications and our stringent quality standards, are available now for customer evaluation," said Balzer, who took over as Ramtron's CEO in Janauary after the resignation of Bill Staunton. "Additional devices, including 3-volt I2C and 3- and 5-volt SPI products, will become available for sampling as testing is completed."
The FM24C04C and FM24C16C feature a serial I2C interface, have an active current of 100µA (typical at 100kHz) and perform up to 1MHz bus frequency, according to Ramtron.. The devices are direct drop-in replacements for 4- and 16-Kb serial EEPROM memories used in industrial controls, metering, medical, military, gaming, and computing applications, among others, according to the company.
The FM24C04C and FM24C16C are offered in an industry standard 8-pin SOIC package and operate over the industrial temperature range of -40°C to +85°C, Ramtron said. The company maintains that its FM24CxxC products offer single-byte writes that are 200 times faster than those of EEPROM.
As part of the 2009 wafer services agreement, IBM installed Ramtron's semiconductor manufacturing process technology at its fab in Burlington, Vt. Ramtron also has a foundry services agreement with Texas Instruments Inc. Japan's Fujitsu Ltd. formerly made parts for Ramtron on a foundry basis, but a spokesman for Ramtron said Wednesday that that relationship had been terminated.
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