Samsung acquires Grandis in bid for memory tech

Summary:Samsung Electronics will acquire Grandis, a Silicon Valley-based company that specializes in spin transfer torque random access memory, or STT-RAM.

Samsung Electronics on Tuesday announced that it would acquire Grandis, a Silicon Valley-based company that specializes in spin transfer torque random access memory, or STT-RAM.

Samsung says the company will be merged into its R&D operations, specifically those focused on developing the next generation of memory with new semiconductor materials and structures. Samsung, of course, is a major player in the memory sector.

Grandis says STT-RAM combines the capacity and cost benefits of DRAM with the fast read and write performance of SRAM and the non-volatility of flash memory.

"Its performance exceeds that of other prospective non-volatile memory technologies, and it solves the key drawbacks of first-generation, field-switched MRAM," the company says on its website. "It has excellent write selectivity, excellent scalability beyond the 45 nm technology node, low power consumption, and a simpler architecture and manufacturing process than first-generation MRAM."

Here's how the technology works:

Spin-transfer torque (STT) switching is a new physics phenomenon that was theoretically predicted in 1996 and first demonstrated in metallic thin films as recently as 2000. Although STT switching currents were initially orders of magnitude too high for application in practical devices, Grandis was founded in 2002 with the goal of developing a novel non-volatile memory technology that applies the many benefits of STT switching to magnetic tunnel junctions (MTJs). Researchers at Grandis undertook pioneering research in spintronics and pursued new magnetic materials and innovative MTJ structures to lower STT switching currents. Through these advances in materials research, coupled with its extensive modeling, simulation, integration, cell architecture, circuit and system design capabilities, Grandis has developed a package that enables its licensees to incorporate stand-alone or embedded STT-RAM non-volatile memory into their products.

Samsung didn't detail why Grandis was such a good fit, but it's likely due to proprietary technology Grandis developed that it believes will be an asset to its current work in the space. (Grandis counts 62 U.S. patents for its work in memory.) Technology, assets and human resources were all acquired in the deal.

Details of the price were not disclosed.

Topics: Innovation, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Processors, Samsung


Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. He is also the former editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation. He writes about business, technology and design now but used to cover finance, fashion and culture. He was an intern at Money, Men's Vogue, Popular Mechanics and the New York Daily Ne... Full Bio

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