LONDON — A semiconductor intellectual-property startup in Grenoble, France, has taped out a magnetoresistive RAM (MRAM)-based microcontroller targeting battery-powered Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable devices.
The startup, eVaderis, provides CMOS-compatible nonvolatile-memory-based IP products such as memory blocks, logic cells, and memory and processor subsystems. The company says it has successfully demonstrated a fully functioning design platform, including software, system, and memory IP, for an ultralow-power MCU in Beyond Semiconductor’s BA2x product line.
The tapeout is a demonstration vehicle to showcase eVaderis’ “proficiency in disruptive, nonvolatile embedded IP design and flow for low-power, digital devices,” Virgile Javerliac, deputy CEO and head of technology and marketing at eVaderis, said in an interview with EE Times. “We are not developing the MRAM technology itself, but the architecture based on it.”
Whereas others in the MRAM ecosystem provide “custom or analog macros based on MRAM,” Javerliac added, eVaderis has taken “a digital approach, providing the IP and the MRAM compilers.” The startup, which has an IP partnership with GlobalFoundries, plans to license the underlying IP to semiconductor manufacturers for production of sub-40-nanometer chips.
Matjaz Breskvar, Beyond Semiconductor’s CEO, noted that the demo targets power consumption, which “is still the key challenge for any battery-powered device. We have been working with eVaderis since that company’s inception to jointly realize a vision of battery-powered, always-on devices with unprecedented energy efficiencies.”
[Sponsored: How efficient memory solutions can help designers of IoT nodes meet tight BoM cost targets]
The MCU incorporates perpendicular, spin-transfer-torque MRAM technology from R&D institute IMEC to achieve nonvolatile operation with high-speed read/writes and low voltage, according to the companies. The device is designed for manufacturability using GlobalFoundries’ 40-nm low-power CMOS process.
The architecture provides 3 Mbits of on-chip memory, fully distributed across the system, for such functions as working memory, configuration, state retention, code execution, and data storage. According to eVaderis, the startup’s memory IP architectures are compiler-friendly to help chip makers minimize time to market.
Since MRAM uses magnetic charges to store data, it retains data when power is turned off and requires only a small amount of electricity to be able to store data bits. By contrast, SRAM and DRAM use electric charges to store data. MRAM also requires less power than other memory storage systems since it writes and stores data using magnetic fields instead of electrical circuits.
The eVaderis embedded MRAM technology thus allows MCUs to achieve power, performance, and functional gains at the system and software levels, including energy-efficient, nonvolatile checkpointing or normally-off/instant-on operation with near-zero-latency boot, according to the company.
Engineers from STMicroelectronics and CEA, France’s alternative-energies and atomic-energy commission, founded eVaderis in 2014. It joined the GlobalFoundries FDXcelerator Partner Program last year to provide scalable, advanced memory IP compatible with GlobalFoundries’ 22FDX technology.
— Nitin Dahad is a European correspondent for EE Times.