SAN FRANCISCO—Claiming to offer the first phase change memory (PCM) in high-volume production, U.S. memory chip vendor Micron Technology Inc. Tuesday (July 17) announced the availability of a 45-nm multi-chip module for mobile devices featuring PCM.
Micron (Boise, Idaho) said its PCM solution for mobile devices features 1-gigabit (Gb) PCM plus 512-megabit (Mb) LPDDR2 in a multi-chip package.
The 1-Gb product is targeted at high-end feature phones, which can benefit from the speed of the read in PCM and simplified software development, according Philippe Berge, senior director of NOR, PCM, e.MMC business for Micron's Wireless Solutions Group. Berge said forthcoming Micron products would target smartphones and other mobile products.
"This is the first product using 45-nm technology, which is really validating high-volume manufacturing of this disruptive technology," Berge said. "Based on that, we are going to have some kind of proliferation in both directions to extend our coverage of the high-volume feature phone market and also later on to address the smartphone market."
PCM claims advantages over traditional memory devices in areas such as boot time, simplified software development, performance and overwrite capability. The technology is also said to be power efficient.
However, the technology has hit a number of obstacles on the road to deployment. detractors argue that it will never be cost competitive with traditional types of memory, and there are also lingering concerns about PCM's temperature sensitivity.
Berge said that improvements
in non-volatile memory technology over the past 20 years have been
evolutionary in nature, but that PCM is a truly disruptive technology.
natural that people need to touch it to really be convinced that it is
manufacturable and that it delivers according to expectations," Berge
said. "We are now at the stage that we can demonstrate that PCM delivers
according to our plans. And that will really be the difference."
Micron said the design-optimizing shared interface between LPDDR2 and PCM is fully compliant with Jedec industry standards.
Micron maintains that its PCM product line has established a foothold in the wireless industry, citing as eivdence relationships with global customers and enablers, engagement with device manufactures and cooperation with Intel Mobile Communications, which includes recent PCM qualification.
"Our commitment to innovation and continued development of advanced products to address the voracious demands of the wireless industry is clear and strong," said Tom Eby, vice president of the Wireless Solutions Group at Micron, in a statement. "We are determined to evolve and innovate by continuing to offer the best-tailored solutions for both today's and tomorrow's market requirements."
Story was updated this morning after I spoke with Philippe Berge, senior director of NOR, PCM, e.MMC business for Micron's Wireless Solutions Group. Berge said Micron has previously had PCM in volume production at 90-nm. He also touted this latest announcement as proof of PCM's potential.
In a comment added to my piece published July 2010
a reader cited a quote from Samsung “…Memory for portable consumer devices today is at a major turning point as mobile applications increasingly require more diverse memory technology,” said Jun Dong-soo, an executive vice president at Samsung Electronics.
“The launch of our PRAM in an advanced MCP solution for the replacement of 40 nm-class and finer geometry NOR meets this need head-on,” he said...."
The results of that head-on collision may have some relevance to Micron as they proceed along what appears to be the same road. For the new PCM I assume and hope “availability” means the 1G-bit MCP is fully qualified and with an associated data sheet. The write/erase lifetime cited for this 1 G-bit 45nm MCP device is given as 100,000 cycles, whereas Micron’s prediction for w/e cycle lifetime at 45nm was 10E9 cycles. This was discussed in
All things being equal, it may be churlish to describe this is anything but PCM progress; representing a scaling holding point until, and if, the very difficult PCM scaling problems ever get solved. My view is unless Micron can in short order get a scaled 8G-bit PCM in the MCP or their Cube (or even a multi-chip based 8G-bit PCM) they will suffer the same fate as the Samsung MCP-PCM. So continuing the road analogy above we hope they have their seat belts on.
Dylan: Did Micron tell you how many of these 90nm devices in "volume production" were actually shipped and sold? More importantly how many product design- in wins were achieved?
"Proof of PCM's potential" I think PCM potential has been there for fifty years-for PCM realization of potential is the name of the game, with PCM devices that are competitive in price, performance and reliability.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.