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Brian Fuller @EETimes: Renesas to put MRAM in 90nm microcontrollers by 2013

Comments(0)EETimes’ Brian Fuller is blogging live from the Renesas DevCon down in southern California and he reports this morning that Renesas has announced plans to incorporate MRAM (magnetic RAM) in its microcontrollers built using 90nm process technology, with parts to be introduced by 2013. At that geometry, Renesas expects the MRAM to support 150MHz operation. Two years later using 40nm process technology, Renesas expect to hit 200MHz.

Conceptually, MRAM is well suited to use in microcontrollers because it’s fast like DRAM and nonvolatile like Flash but doesn’t have the write-cycle limitations of Flash. If Renesas pulls off this feat of manufacturing, its microcontrollers will be able to employ “unified memory.” Only one type of memory with one address space and only one type of memory access protocol is needed to satisfy all of the on-chip storage needs of the microcontroller. Although there are a few small MRAMs on the market, the technology has not yet moved into the commercial mainstream. If it does, it will welcome back magnetic storage--which was king of the hill from the 1950s through the mainframe and minicomputer eras and then banished to obscurity in the early 1970s when DRAMs first appeared.

MRAM is one of several “new” memory technologies vying to displace DRAMs and Flash memory. Others include PCM (phase-change memory) and memristor-based memory, which Hynix just licensed from HP for potential future commercial production. Hynix is calling memristor-based memory ReRAM, for “resistive RAM.”


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