Innovative Silicon (ISi) and Hynix Semiconductor today
announced an agreement for the Korean memory maker to license Z-RAM
high-density memory intellectual property for use in its DRAM chips. The deal
between the two companies is worth more than $10 million, with additional
royalties in production.
Z-RAM was initially developed as the world’s lowest-cost
embedded memory technology for logic-based ICs such as mobile chipsets,
microprocessors, networking and other consumer applications.
Z-RAM-based DRAMs will use a single transistor bitcell –
rather than a combination of transistors and capacitor elements – representing
the first fundamental DRAM bitcell change since the invention of the DRAM in
the early 1970s.
Although AMD was the first major licensee
of Z-RAM technology, Hynix is the first with plans to bring the Z-RAM technology
to the DRAM market. Both Interactive Silicon and Hynix are committing considerable
engineering resources to work side-by-side on the program.
“Z-RAM promises to provide an elegant approach to
manufacture dense DRAMs on nanometer processes,” said Sung-Joo Hong, VP of
R&D Division at Hynix. “We see the
potential to create a new platform of products based on ISi’s innovation of
Z-RAM that will help us maintain and grow our leadership position in the memory
Hynix experienced a considerable growth in revenue in 2006,
helping it crack
the list of the 10 largest chip makers in the world. Jeff Lewis, VP
marketing at ISi, believes that Hynix’s strength in the memory market will help
push the growth of Z-RAM technology.
“We believe that this is a major milestone for ISi and
Hynix. Z-RAM will have a profound impact
on the way DRAMs are designed and manufactured,” commented Lewis. “Since the
DRAM industry sold more than $33 billion worth of product in 2006, these
developments will, in turn, significantly affect the electronics industry as a
ISi’s Z-RAM stands apart from today’s standard DRAM and SRAM
solutions as its single transistor bitcell architecture is the world’s smallest
memory cell, making it the highest density, and therefore world’s lowest-cost semiconductor
As Z-RAM’s architecture involves a smaller bitcell, Hynix
may choose to make memory products with higher densities than what is currently
possible with DRAM.
Z-RAM’s one transistor memory bitcell is made possible by
harnessing the Floating Body Effect (FBE) found in circuits fabricated using
SOI (silicon-on-insulator) wafers.
Moreover, since Z-RAM takes advantage of a naturally-occurring SOI
effect, Z-RAM does not require exotic process changes to build capacitors or
other complex structures within the memory bitcell.
Innovative Silicon will help Hynix integrate Z-RAM
technology into its existing production line. As with any new technology, there
may be added costs or lower yield during early production, but Z-RAM should
eventually lead to better yields than current DRAM technologies due to its capacitor-less
“Memory chips built using ISi’s Z-RAM technology will be
much smaller and cheaper to manufacture,” adds Mark-Eric Jones, ISi CEO. “We
are looking forward to working with Hynix on its next generation of DRAM chips,
and to bringing tremendous performance and usability advantages to end-users.”