Tower invests in Crocus, tips MRAM foundry deal
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Moving closer to commercial production, MRAM startup Crocus Technology Inc. has received new funding and expanded its foundry alliance with Israel's Tower Semiconductor Ltd.
Crocus (Grenoble, France) has received a $1.25 million investment from Tower. The MRAM startup has also received a separate 1.3 million euro ($1.8 million) injection from Entreprises et Patrimoine.
Crocus has been developing its MRAM technology for some time, although the company has yet to ship a product in the commercial market. The company has been buying bulk foundry wafers from Tower. Then, Crocus integrates MRAM technology within its own facilities.
Thursday's announcement completes the establishment of Crocus' wafer manufacturing capability. Under the plan, Tower will port Crocus' MRAM technology into its 130-nm foundry process, with a migration path to 90-nm.
As part of the exclusive agreement, Tower will perform all manufacturing steps required for Crocus' MRAM technology within its Fab 2 plant, a 200-mm facility. Tower and Crocus will each dedicate specific equipment in Tower's fab.
Crocus has not set a target date for commercial shipments. The deal with Tower will take ''one or two years before we reach an end point,'' said Barry Hoberman, business development manager at Crocus. The Tower deal, coupled with the new funding, is aimed to support Crocus' development and market introduction of its first MRAM products, he said.
Magnetoresistive random access memory (MRAM) is a technology that uses the magnetism of electron spin to provide non-volatility without wear-out. Crocus is one of several companies racing to bring MRAM into the commercial market. Avalanche, Crocus, Everspin, Grandis, Hynix, Infineon, IBM-TDK, NEC, Renesas, Samsung, Toshiba and others are developing the technology. To date, however, Everspin, the MRAM spinoff of Freescale Semiconductor Inc., appears to be the only company shipping MRAM.