During the last month there have been several news stories of note. I wondered whether to start with the encouraging and move to disappointing or vice versa. After some thought, I’ve settled for vice versa.
First and definitely disappointing is that Rambus (who purchased ReRAM pioneer Unity, see past Blog posts) no longer mention NVM on their Home Page. While the NVM page still exists, it is no longer linked to from the Home page……
The next item is perhaps not so much ‘disappointing’ as inevitable, I fear. I’m referring to the interview with Lee Jung Hoon, head of SK Hynix’s Advanced Device & Process Integration Division who commented that ReRAM will only be enter volume production if it is cost competitive and then only “in 2015 at the earliest” www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-24/hp-ibm-may-be-first-customers-for-sk-hynix-s-new-memory-chips.html The interview also includes the comment that Toshiba, HP and IBM will be the first companies to be offered ReRAM if/when they appear. These four companies partner SK Hynix on the development of next-generation chips leading to some interesting ‘internal competition’. For example, IBM and SK Hynix are jointly developing PCRAM which could be seen as a competitor to ReRAM and Toshiba (DRAM partners with SK Hynix) have their own ReRAM development in collaboration with SanDisk. On a brighter note SK have reportedly shown a profit in Q1 2013 after 5 years of losses and is repositioning itself on more advanced technologies in order to boost earnings.
At VLSI 2013, there were several ReRAM papers of note. For example, IMEC researchers described quantitative statistical prediction of the ReRAM operation by adding a stochastic component in their ReRAM model. This allows a better understanding of the effects of random telegraph noise which becomes apparent in the form of discrete current fluctuations in nanoscale contacts and devices. I missed the presentation but IMEC did publish a press release on their web site http://www2.imec.be/be_en/press/imec-news/imecvlsirram.html.
A second paper of note at VLSI 2013, was the result of a collaboration between Ben Calhoun of the University of Virginia and Blog sponsors Adesto Technologies. Associate Professor Calhoun specializes on really, really low power electronics. His web-site is most informative and includes a chip gallery! Some of the power levels quoted are quite extraordinary. They are so low that scavenging power from body heat is an option. (The image accompanying this post in from his paper A Batteryless 19uW MICS/ISM-Band Energy Harvesting Body Area Sensor Node SoC presented at ISSCC 2012) Indeed that was the focus of his group’s VLSI presentation. In DR Calhoun’s own words, “We have built some exciting wearable wireless body sensors that run completely without batteries from body heat, but one key missing piece was non-volatile memory (NVM). Existing NVM devices are way too power hungry for our aggressive power budgets. This integrated ultra low-power CBRAM from Adesto is an important advance for self-powered systems.” www.adestotech.com/news/press-releases/……..
Last, but by no means the most encouraging, I could not resist this item…. “Slime mould could make memristors for biocomputers”….. . Adds a new twist to the phrase ‘Grow your own’! I’m not sure if the mould is really bright yellow but it is shown in the image below.
Christie Marrian, ReRAM-Forum.com, Moderator