At the recent Flash Memory Summit there were a few announcements that show continued development of MRAM technology which can substitute for NAND or DRAM, has unlimited write cycles and is magnetism based. My interest in MRAM stems from its potential use as a substitute storage technology for today’s SSDs that use SLC and MLC NAND flash memory with much more limited write cycles.
MRAM has the potential to replace NAND SSD technology because of the speed of write (current prototypes write at 400Mhz or a few nanoseconds) and with the potential to go up to 1Ghz. At 400Mhz, MRAM is already much much faster than today’s NAND. And with no write limits, MRAM technology should be very appealing to most SSD vendors.
The problem with MRAM
The only problem is that current MRAM chips use 150nm chip design technology whereas today’s NAND ICs use 32nm chip design technology. All this means that current MRAM chips hold about 1/1000th the memory capacity of today’s NAND chips (16Mb MRAM from Everspin vs 16Gb NAND from multiple vendors). MRAM has to get on the same (chip) design node as NAND to make a significant play for storage intensive applications.
It’s encouraging that somebody at least is starting to manufacture MRAM chips rather than just being lab prototypes with this technology. From my perspective, it can only get better from here…
2 thoughts on “What’s happening with MRAM?”
I totally agree that its about time SOMEONE started actually making this stuff. Flash has done wonders for small devices, but has also imposed an often-soldered-in death sentence for embedded applications such as our SSDs and numerous Nintendo Wiis and iPods (not that consumable non-user replaceable items bothers Apple) We really need a faster, less power hungry (no 10 volt charge pumped writes) and seemingly indefinite-lived solution like MRAM to pick up the torch.
Lets hope someone gets that kick in the bum to fire up those 32nm lines (or smaller!)
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