Tuesday, August 21, 2007

IBM and TDK Combined Efforts for Advanced MRAM Development

IBM and TDK Corporation today announced a joint research and development program to develop high capacity MRAM (Magnetic Random Access Memory) technology utilizing the spin momentum transfer effect. The companies believe that harnessing the spin momentum transfer effect will allow a much more compact memory cell than is possible with present approaches.
The companies will leverage their respective expertise in areas of fundamental research for new memory technology and magnetic device development to create a high density, high capacity MRAM integrated circuit which can be used as standalone memory or embedded into other IC solutions.
IBM has been a leader in the development of MRAM memory technology and a pioneer in the fundamental research and development of the magnetic tunnel junction (MTJ) and in the prediction and study of the spin momentum transfer effect upon which the memory is based. TDK Corporation is the leader in applying MTJ technology into recording heads for Hard Disk Drives. Both companies have extensive research and patents in design and materials for magnetic data recording.
MRAM offers significant advantages over competing memory technologies including low power usage, high speed, unlimited endurance (read and write cycles), and inherent non-volatility (retains data without the need for continued power). Market adoption of MRAM has been limited by the inability to cost effectively increase capacity. Spin momentum transfer technology enables MRAM to significantly reduce cell size and thereby increase capacity cost-effectively while maintaining the low power, endurance and non-volatility advantages, potentially making MRAM a preferred solution for memory applications in the automotive, cell phone, handheld computing, and industrial controls.
"This collaborative initiative reinforces IBM's commitment to explore new phenomena for memory applications," said Dr. T.C. Chen, vice president, Science and Technology, IBM Research. "The project will focus on creating and demonstrating advanced magnetic materials in demanding memory chip designs."
IBM and TDK's joint efforts in development of MRAM technology should result into the launch of so-called spin torque transfer RAM (random access memory) or STT-RAM. In STT-RAM, an electric current is applied to a magnet to change the direction of the magnetic field. The direction of the magnetic field (up-and-down or left-to-right) causes a change in resistance, and the different levels of resistance register as 1s or 0s.
Under the current plan, IBM and TDK, an integral player in magnetic recording components for hard drives, will develop a 65-nanometer prototype within the next four years.

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