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HP, SanDisk partner to bring storage-class memory to market

Lucas Mearian | Oct. 9, 2015
ReRAM has 1,000 times the endurance of NAND flash in SSDs.

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A microscopic sideview photo of a Resistive RAM circuit where tiny conductive filaments crisscross and connect silicon layers to represent a bit of data. Credit: Crossbar

Until memristor, researchers knew of only three basic circuit elements -- the resistor, the capacitor and the inductor. Memristor added a fourth, but it remained a theory and not a reality for decades.

In 2008, researchers at HP Labs claimed to have proved memristor existed based on an analysis of a thin film of titanium dioxide.

In 2010, HP entered into a three-year joint development agreement with Hynix Semiconductor around memristor development.

HP and Hynix said they would jointly develop the materials and process integration technology to bring memristor technology to commercial development as ReRAM. Hynix was to be responsible for fabricating the memristor technology. Five years later, there has been no product.

"This program been in active development within SanDisk for seven or eight years," Sivaram said of his company's ReRAM technology. "HP recognizes our expertise."

Sivaram could not say when products will ship. The two companies will need to develop proprietary OS, firmware and application software to go along with the new non-volatile memory.

While the agreement was described as "long term," the companies didn't specify an exact timespan for the development partnership.

HP and SanDisk are not alone

Resistive memories have been nearing production for the past couple of years, meaning HP and SanDisk are not alone in their quest to find a cheaper, more durable non-volatile replacement for DRAM.

Silicon Valley start-up Crossbar expects some of its 3D Restive RAM (3D RRAM) products to be out in 2016 as memory in wearable devices, with high-density storage devices like solid-state drives arriving within 18 months after that.

Intel and Micron announced earlier this year they were partnering to develop 3D XPoint, transistor-less cross-point architecture that creates a three-dimensional checkerboard of microscopic wires where memory cells sit at the intersection of words lines and bit lines.

The companies claim 3D XPoint memory has the potential to be 1,000 times faster with 1,000 times the endurance of NAND flash with about 1 million erase-write cycles.

Intel has said it expects 3D XPoint products to ship next year in PCIe SSDs and DIMM form factors.

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The premise of 3D XPoint's architectures is that it removes the need for bit-storing transistors and instead uses a latticework of wires that use electrical resistance to signify a 1 or a 0. Credit: Intel, Micron


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