LONDON – Crocus Technology Inc. and IBM Corp. have signed patent license agreements and agreed to co-develop semiconductor technology that combines Crocus's thermally-assisted magnetic logic unit (MLU) MRAM technology with IBM's magneto-resistive MRAM non-volatile memory technology and processing capabilities.
No details were provided about the geometries at which Crocus and IBM would work together, but it appears that the deal is intended to take Crocus beyond the 130-nm node that the company is working on in a deal with Tower Semiconductor Ltd. (Migdal Haemek, Israel). Crocus said it intended to deploy the manufacturing process resulting from its cooperation with IBM at its Russian wafer fab, Crocus Nano Electronics, which implies a target of high-capacity stand-aloneMRAMs made on 90- and 65-nm process technologies.
It was not disclosed whether IBM would also be a manufacturer of stand-alone MRAMs or would use the technology for embedded applications. Nor were any financial details of the deal disclosed.
The MLU technology from Crocus (Sunnyvale, Calif.) , announced in June 2011, is a thermally-assisted magnetic switch for use in memory access and storage. Crocus claims it scales well and its use opens up the possibility of NAND-like memory implemented in MRAM, including multi-bit cells and dedicated search memories for use in Internet servers.
"We look forward to collaborating with Crocus to further the development of advanced magnetic semiconductor technologies that can lead to increased function and performance in semiconductor products," said William Gallagher, senior manager of quantum computing and exploratory magnetic memories for IBM, in a statement issued by Crocus.
"This joint development and patent license agreement with Crocus furthers IBM's long-standing commitment to enabling innovation through cooperation," he added.
Other MRAM companies include Everspin Technologies Inc. (Chandler, Ariz.), a spin-off from Freescale Semiconductor Inc. and Grandis recently acquired by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.
Everspin is offering 16-Mbit STT-MRAMs reportedly manufactured on a 180-nm process technology.
Crocus's Russian fab is being designed to fashion devices with 90- and 65-nm feature sizes on 300-mm diameter wafers. It will add MRAM-specific processing layers to standard CMOS wafers sourced from other foundries. However, the fab is not scheduled to be in operation before 2013.