SAN FRANCISCO—Everspin Technologies Inc. said Monday (Nov. 12) it is now sampling the industry's first 64-Mb spin-torque magnetoresistive RAM (ST-MRAM), a type of non-volatile memory (NVM) with low latency and high endurance thought to hold promise for use in solid-state drives (SSDs) and other high-performance storage systems.
Everspin (Chandler, Ariz.) said the 64-Mb device is the first product on an ST-MRAM roadmap that is planned to scale to gigabit density memories with faster speeds. Select customers are now evaluating samples the chip, EMD3D064M, Everspin said.
Everspin, which spun out of Freescale Semiconductor Inc. in 2008, bills itself as the only company to have successfully commercialized MRAM chips. The company says it has shipped some 7 million devices based on toggle-mode MRAM technology. But toggle MRAM has limited scaling potential. Everspin and others say ST-MRAM—which uses a spin-polarized current—is one of three types of low-latency emerging memory types with the potential to displace current technologies.
But MRAM and other types of nonvolatile memories have their detractors. MRAM chips remain dramatically more expensive than DRAM and flash chips. MRAM has also been in development for two decades and has yet to achieve wide-scale commercial adoption. Use of NVM technology also requires new processor architectures and filing systems.
Everspin has shipped over 7 million MRAM devices based on toggle-mode technology (left). The new device uses spin-polarized current and is considered more scalable.
According to Steffen Hellmold, vice president of marketing at Everspin, much of the controversy over the potential of MRAM and other non-volatile memory technologies centers on its potential to replace DRAM. NVM critics point to the price difference; Hellmold says ST-MRAM's low latency makes it immediately valuable for high-performance storage applications.
Hellmold said it's important for Everspin to offer samples of ST-MRAM to show that the technology is commercially viable and to give potential customers time to changes to the architectures of their products. "Customers have to have confidence that this is real," Hellmold said.
“The properties of ST-MRAM are particularly appealing to the enterprise SSD market because of its ability to enhance and complement flash memory technology,” said Joseph Unsworth, research vice president at Gartner, in a statement issued by Everspin. “The commercialization of this technology is an important industry milestone that should continue to drive SSD proliferation in data center and in-memory computing architectures.”