LONDON – Struggling DRAM maker Elpida Memory Inc. has announced the development of a non-volatile resistance memory (ReRAM) prototype. The company said it plans to work with Sharp Corp. on commercialization with a view to volume production of a gigabit-scale ReRAM in 2013.
However, Elpida may not remain independent until 2013. The company is reportedly in discussions about a merger with U.S. memory chip maker Micron Technology Inc. and Taiwan's Nanya Technology Corp.
The ReRAM prototype has a capacity of 64-Mbits and was manufactured using a 50-nm manufacturing process technology. It was developed in collaboration with the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), a Japanese-funded public institution. The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and the University of Tokyo will join with Sharp and Elpida on next generation work, Elpida said in a statement.
ReRAM technologies of various types are being investigated around the world and are seen as a possible replacement for NAND flash memory which is expected to hit scaling problems within one or two manufacturing generations.
The Elpida ReRAM has a write speed of 10-ns – about the same as DRAM – and read-write endurance of more than one million cycles, which is 10 times superior to flash, the company said. Elpida did not disclose the material used in its ReRAM device or the principle of operation. Metal-oxides are frequently selected and are the subject of intense research as groups strive to understand the switching and storage mechanisms at the nanometer scale.
Elpida plans to continue development toward a 2013 goal of volume production of ReRAM in the gigabit capacity class using a 30-nm process technology. If the ReRAM can be provided at low cost it could become a memory option for smartphones, tablet devices and ultra-thin light notebook PCs, Elpida said.
A 2013 market introduction could put Elpida into competition with Hynix which is said to be planning to bring a similar Hewlett-Packard technology to market at about the same time.
Elpida said it continues to develop process migration and other technology related to DRAM and at the same time promotes the development of ReRAM as a promising next-generation memory that can substitute for DRAM functions.
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