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Crossbar Shakes Up Memory Market with New RRAM

Crossbar Shakes Up Memory Market with New RRAM
By Nancy Owano

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Now that Crossbar has come out of stealth mode, it is just a matter of time before one can see the impact of its RRAM technology on the manufacturing design of mobile devices, certainly wearables. Analysts agreed that this is significant news in assessing the market outlook for memory and NAND flash.
 


Startup Crossbar has announced its "Crossbar Resistive RAM" (RRAM) technology. The company is promoting its new class of RRAM as nothing short of a next-gen alternative to NAND flash for devices and servers.

The Santa Clara, California-based company, founded in 2010, announced Monday that it was emerging from "stealth mode" in order to unveil its new, nonvolatile RRAM (resistive random access memory) tech.

The company claimed breakthrough performance and capacity that may trigger a next wave of innovation in electronics. Crossbar said its debut tech is the future solution to the industry's need for high density, scalable, easy-to-manufacture memory.

Smaller, Faster, Cheaper

If all that talk sounds dramatic, the numbers do not disappoint. Crossbar's new technology can scale up to 1 terabyte (TB) on a chip the size of a postage stamp.

The Crossbar approach means a small, fast, and power-efficient memory. Crossbar claims RRAM will deliver 20 times faster write performance, 20 times less power consumption and ten times more durability than NAND flash. (NAND is a nonvolatile storage technology and NAND flash refers to a special form of flash memory.)

Compared to NAND flash, the current is lower, the cost to manufacture is cheaper, and it will be easier for fabrication plants to implement than other emerging technologies.

The company's RRAM memory chip technology can be stacked in 3D, with multiple terabytes of storage on a single chip. A Crossbar RRAM cell has three simple layers. A 1TB module will be roughly half the size of a NAND flash module with similar storage.

Market Potential

Several analysts agreed that this is significant news in assessing the market outlook for memory and NAND flash.

Greg Wong, principal analyst at Forward Insights, said his firm believed that RRAM, including Crossbar's approach, has the potential to succeed NAND flash memory.

Others noted that as manufacturing technologies improve and chips get smaller, entrenched players are going to face barriers, even run out of steam, while Crossbar's RRAM will deliver advantages of scalability and manufacturing ease.

Crossbar said its business plan is "to bring to market standalone chip solutions, optimized for both code and data storage, used in place of traditional NOR and NAND Flash memory." The company said that it also plans to license its technology to system-on-a-chip (SOC) developers for integration into next-generation SOCs.

Now that Crossbar has come out of stealth mode, it is just a matter of time before one can see the impact of its technology approach on the manufacturing design of mobile devices, certainly wearables.

Wearables, Meters, Thermostats

Crossbar has developed its demonstration product in a commercial fab. This working silicon is a fully integrated monolithic CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) controller and memory array chip.

Any significant improvement in storage for very small form factors with low power consumption will be well received. Beyond mobile applications, the Crossbar innovation may also translate into better system performance in data centers.

In industrial applications, this could translate into more efficient memory use in the design of devices such as smart meters and thermostats.
 

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