SAN FRANCISCO — MRAM developer Spin Transfer Technologies (STT) and capital equipment vendor Tokyo Electron Ltd. (TEL) have entered into a collaborative engineering program to jointly develop process technologies for SRAM- and DRAM-class spin-transfer torque (ST) MRAM devices.
The project will combine TEL's ST-MRAM deposition tool and knowledge of the formation capabilities of magnetic tools with STT's high-endurance perpendicular magnetic tunnel junction (pMTJ) design and device fabrication technology, the companies said. The goal of the project is to further advance ST-MRAM to provide previously unachievable levels of speed, density and endurance, they said.
MRAM (magnetoresistive random access memory) has long been seen as a potential replacement for SRAM, DRAM and flash, but development, which began in earnest in the 1990s, has been slow. To date, only one company, Everspin Technologies, has shipped working MRAM products. Everspin has been shipping MRAM since 2006, when it was part of Freescale Semiconductor, and claims to have shipped more than 60 million MRAM devices.
Embedded SRAM — pervasive in mobile, computing and industrial applications — is considered a fast and high endurance memory, but is also costly, power hungry and volatile. ST-MRAM, which is more compact, is considered less costly, nonvolatile and requires less power when storing data. But further improvements — especially in terms of fast switching and endurance — are needed for ST-MRAM to match or exceed SRAM performance.
Last August, Everspin became the first vendor to announce it was sampling MRAM with pMTJs — considered by all vendors developing MRAM to be the technology offer the best scalability, shape dependence and magnetic scalability. In January of this year, STT also began sampling pMTJs.
STT and TEL said the collaborative agreement would further each company's goal of offering compelling MRAM solutions for the embedded SRAM market initially and, eventually, the standalone DRAM market. The companies aim to develop MRAM is pMTJs smaller than 30nm, more dense than today's commercially available products.
Tom Sparkman, who took over as CEO of STT in July, said in a press statement that the partnership with TEL would speed the development of the company's technology for replacing SRAM and DRAM.
"We believe the adoption of ST-MRAM will materially exceed current expectations, and we are excited to work with TEL to revolutionize the ST-MRAM market by achieving the speed, density and endurance the industry needs," Sparkman said.
—Dylan McGrath is the editor-in-chief of EE Times.