ARM licenses next-gen flash replacements

ARM plans to accelerate their energy-use advantage over Intel by licensing two innovative non-volatile RAM (NVRAM) technologies last month. ARM puts sizable financial and technical muscle behind the search for a flash replacement.

ARM last month licensed two NVRAM technologies: Magnetic RAM (MRAM) from Crocus Technology SA; and, Correlated Electron RAM (CeRAM) from Symetrix Corporation. Both technologies offer key advantages for mobile applications.

Crocus, founded in 2004, based in Grenoble, France and with operations in the US and Russia, has pioneered a CMOS-based Magnetic Logic Unit NVRAM. Besides offering high-speed reads and writes at low power, the memory is very robust, operating reliably at over 200°C. They also offer a security technology called Match-In-Place for user authentication without exposing confidential information that an attacker could use.

Symetrix is a Colorado Springs, CO company founded in 1986. They hold over 100 NV memory patents using standard semiconductor processes. Their CeRAM is a form of resistive memory (ReRAM) that use quantum phase transitions to record bits.

The Storage Bits take
Both companies have signficant intellectual property portfolios and interesting commonalities.

  • Neither uses filamentary memory cells used in several competing ReRAM cells.
  • Both technologies operate at femtosecond speeds and high temperatures, with low power writes - unlike flash's 20V writes.
  • Both have demonstrated manufacturability, with Crocus shipping a family of MLU products.

I'll dive into these technologies some more in the future. But for now I'm impressed with the technologies that ARM has chosen to explore. This could be the game changer for a next-gen NVRAM the industry needs.

Comments welcome, of course. I've had the pleasure of working with a number of brilliant French engineers. French management, not so much, but maybe that was a fluke.