Freescale Semiconductor Inc. announced the availability
of its new memory chips which could possibly make some pretty large waves
in the semiconductor industry. The company's magnetoresistive random-access
memory (MRAM) is capable of retaining data without power like flash memory
chips, but also has the ability to read and write data at much greater speeds.
Also, unlike flash memory chips, MRAM doesn't degrade over time. Flash memory
cells have been shown to lose integrity after 100,000 to 1 million cycles.
MRAM devices are capable of read and write speeds of
200MB/sec. For comparison, Samsung’s newly introduced 2Gb 60nm OneNand chips
are capable of read speeds of 108MB/sec and write speeds of 17MB/sec. BusinessWeek reports:
Sometimes referred to
as "universal" memory, MRAM could displace a number of chips found in
every electronic device, from PCs, cell phones, music players and cameras to
the computing components of kitchen appliances, cars and airplanes. "This
is the most significant memory introduction in this decade," said Will
Strauss, an analyst with research firm Forward Concepts. "This is
radically new technology. People have been dabbling in this for years, but
nobody has been able to make it in volume."
Companies like Toshiba, NEC and IBM have announced continued research and
breakthroughs in MRAM technology, but Freescale is the first to announce
commercial availability of the product. Freescale, which has been producing its
4Mb chips for the past two months in Arizona, was spun off from Motorola just
two years ago. While it may be a while before consumers can see the benefits of
products based around MRAM designs, it’s good to hear that manufacturers can
now get a hold of production quality chips to develop new products.