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Apr 30

Intermolecular Update!

Intermolecular’s (IMI) Q1 Earnings Results and Conference Call threw some more light on their activities in the ReRAM and memory fields along with another puzzle. Dave Lazovsky, IMI CEO, announced they have signed a multi-year Collaborative Development Program (CDP) and IP licensing agreement with Micron. IMI have also signed an agreement with Elpida which extends the existing agreement and this new agreement will transition to Micron upon the closing of Micron’s acquisition of Elpida. Specific details were quite understandably not forthcoming but Dave went on to stress that the agreement with Micron covers both DRAM and non-volatile memory. The collaboration will involve development at IMI’s R&D center in San Jose and is anticipated to provide time-to-market improvements for Micron through acceleration of advanced materials development. Dave went on to comment that the collaboration introduced the potential for much larger and more predictable licensing revenue structured around success keys (milestones) based not on any one technology application or node, but rather a larger strategic opportunity of benefit to both companies. Interesting!

The status of IMI’s CDP with Toshiba/SanDisk was also clarified. The CDP and IP licensing agreement has been extended for a further year with immediate effect and Dave went on to make some interesting remarks about the Toshiba/SanDisk ISSCC paper (see previous Blogs).”…..We (IMI) believe this provides a further signal of the strategic importance of 3D ReRAM for both Toshiba and SanDisk. …… a couple of key observations. First, an unveiling the 24 nanometer, 32-gigabit bilayer ReRAM device, Toshiba and SanDisk have achieved the highest memory density levels to-date in a working device using an emerging non-volatile memory technology. Secondly as a bilayer device, this result demonstrates the scalability of ReRAM in the third dimension to reach much higher levels of memory density in the future by the injection of more layers.“ This is the second reference I have come across that the Toshiba/SanDisk chip is designed for multiple (4?) ReRAM bilayers.

The puzzle was the absence of any comment during the on the announcement which was made three weeks earlier that Sematech and IMI “have agreed to co-develop new methods to reduce overall cost of ownership for extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography and to explore new materials, processes, and integration schemes for advanced logic integrated circuit technologies” Maybe the ink hadn’t fully dried on the agreement at the time of the Earnings Conference Call but the CEO did not mention the agreement and none of the analysts asked a question about it. Nonetheless, I am intrigued as to what IMI can do to help rescue EUV. The company website adds to the mystery by omitting any reference to EUV in the CTO’s comments accompanying the announcement instead focusing on contact resistance, test structures and process flows.*

Christie Marrian, ReRAM-Forum moderator

*Full comments: “As semiconductor dimensions are scaled down further, contact resistance remains a critical issue,” said Tony Chiang, Chief Technology Officer, Intermolecular. “Our unique capabilities to accelerate R&D across leading-edge semiconductor processes and devices complement SEMATECH’s expertise in advanced CMOS test structures and process flows. We are pleased to join in this pre-competitive collaboration intended to accelerate the transfer of new technologies into industry.”

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