At the 2013 Embedded World Exhibition at the end of February in Nuremberg, Panasonic announced their ReRAM containing MCU. Fortunately for those of you who missed this (as I did), Panasonic have a virtual booth available online and on the right hand side is a green box entitled ‘Resistive RAM embedded MCU’. Click on it and you’ll see the announcement that a starter kit is available along with some specs and marketing material.
The product is described as “8-bit low-power-consumption microcomputer: Delivers both smaller area and small ROM code size as 8-bit microcomputer and high performance as 16-bit microcomputer based on 16-bit microcomputer core with alterable (3 or 4) stage pipeline. It also delivers lower power consumption of the system by intermittent operation.” It contains 128kB (program) + 8kB (data) of ReRAM which permits “No more need for sector erase, erase and rewrite memory at byte level”. Interestingly the data area ReRAM is quoted as having a 100x higher endurance than the program area ReRAM. While the program area does not need the same level of endurance as the data area, it suggests a different cell configuration or architecture has been implemented. The cell is BEOL with a TaOx layer sandwiched between unidentified top and bottom although another image from the ReRAM video shows a TaOx/Ta2O5 bilayer. I could not find any details of the technology node used to fabricate the chip.
The main selling point is lower power consumption due to a peak current reduction due to ReRAM and a current pulse width reduction due to a faster CPU and reduced leakage. The net is a 50% reduction in the average current. A 10x improvement over the equivalent Flash based MCU in the endurance of the data area is claimed along with a lower voltage and 10x faster write speed (3µS) for the ReRAM. All this is illustrated by the attached image showing ‘No Need’ for the extra battery!
There is no doubt that this is an exciting development in the ReRAM world not to mention the first ReRAM-Forum Product Announcement and our 50th Blog!
I wonder if Panasonic would send me the advertised starter kit….
Christie Marrian, ReRAM-Forum moderator