Ramtron Announces 1-Megabit FRAM Memory
Colorado Springs, Colo. Ramtron International Corporation (Nasdaq:RMTR), the leading developer and supplier of nonvolatile ferroelectric random access memory (FRAM) products, today announced the availability of the FM20L08, a one-megabit (Mbit), 3-volt, nonvolatile FRAM product in a 32-pin TSOP (thin small outline plastic) package. The FM20L08 is Ramtron's highest-density FRAM memory to date and offers an unlimited number of read/write cycles. The product has been designed as a drop-in replacement for standard asynchronous SRAMs and is targeted for systems that collect and store data where power levels can vary or be lost suddenly, such as set-top boxes, automotive telematics and industrial applications.
As a major enhancement to Ramtron's existing parallel FRAM product line, the FM20L08 provides fully compatible SRAM timing with address transition detection (ATD), which allows users to change addresses while leaving the chip enable active. The FM20L08 responds to each address just like SRAM, greatly simplifying the design engineer's task in using a nonvolatile RAM.
"The new ATD scheme greatly improves the ease of use for design engineers when using our parallel FRAM products," said Mike Alwais, vice president, FRAM Products. "This product drops directly into an SRAM design, allowing the easy replacement of undesirable battery-backed SRAM solutions. The FM20L08 has a diverse target market, and we have seen significant customer interest in samples from end applications such as automotive telematics, set-top boxes, industrial controls, and utility metering."
Ease of use was Ramtron's goal in the design of the FM20L08 feature set. In addition to acting as a standard SRAM, the product includes an internal voltage monitor to lock out low voltage access and protect stored data. The monitor continuously checks the VDD supply voltage and asserts an active-low signal to indicate that the memory is write-protected when VDD drops below a critical threshold. When the /LVL signal is low, the memory is protected against an inadvertent access and data corruption. The FM20L08 also features software-controlled write protection. The memory array is divided into eight uniform blocks, each of which can be individually write-protected under software control with no change to hardware or pin-out. To provide a convenient interface to current high-performance microprocessors, the FM20L08 includes a high-speed page mode that allows a 4-byte burst read or write operation at much higher bus speeds than a conventional random access memory.
FRAM Product Benefits
All data written to the FRAM memory is immediately nonvolatile, without the delays often associated with older nonvolatile memory technologies. All FRAM products are nonvolatile; allowing data to be retained after power is removed. FRAM provides nonvolatile data retention comparable to that of other nonvolatile memory technologies, while eliminating the reliability concerns, functional disadvantages and system design complexities of battery-backed SRAM (BBSRAM). In addition, FRAM's fast write capability and unlimited write endurance make it superior to other types of nonvolatile memory, such as electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM) or Flash.
FRAM is superior to BBSRAM in that there is no need for an on-board or external battery to back up data and is inherently highly reliable due to its monolithic form factor. The FM20L08 is a true surface-mount solution with no rework steps required for battery attachment and is highly resistant to negative voltage and undershoots that plague battery-backed SRAM.
The FM20L08 is organized as a 128K x 8 nonvolatile memory that reads and writes like a standard SRAM. Access time is 60 ns. The high-speed page mode operation runs up to a 33MHz bus speed for a 4-byte burst. There are no write delays or maximum write buffer sizes. The product operates from 3.3 volts, and uses less operating current than standard SRAMs, which results in lower operating power. The FM20L08 is offered in both an industrial temperature range of -40 degrees C to +85 degrees C and a commercial temperature range of 0 degrees C to +70 degrees C. Cycle time for the commercial part is 150 ns; cycle time for the industrial part is 350 ns.