MRAM production gains momentum as Japanese and US companies team up

A group of over twenty US and Japanese companies is looking to replace the traditional DRAM by mass-producing a superior memory technology known as MRAM.

MRAM stands for 'Magnetoresistive Random Access Memory'; It has been in development for well over a decade as an alternative to traditional DRAM, but hasn't really been picked up by chip-makers until now. Memory chips based on this technology are reported to be 10 times faster than DRAM while using less power which can prove beneficial for battery-powered portable devices.

We first heard about MRAM in 2002 when Toshiba and NEC announced that they would complete the development of the technology by 2005. However, the companies insisted that they wouldn't commercialize the product. IBM and Infineon later committed to make the technology commercially available by 2005. Later in 2006, Freescale started selling 4Mbit MRAM chips for $25 each. None of these efforts made the kind of impact expected by the computing industry.

Now, an alliance of over twenty companies from the US and Japan has committed to bringing MRAM based chips to the masses by 2018 according to a report in Nikkei's Asian Review.

The companies will aim at researching techniques for making mass-production of the MRAM chips possible, which has been one of the key factors in the delay of mainstream MRAM presence. Companies such as Tokyo Electron, Shin-Etsu Chemical, Renesas Electronics, Hitachi and Micron Technology are reportedly part of the alliance.

Researchers from the companies will be working on development from February at the Tohoku University in Japan, under professor Tetsuo Endoh to achieve the goal.

DRAM has been part of computing for a long time and has been updated to meet modern day requirements from time to time, but hasn't received a drastic overhaul as yet. If MRAM makes it to the masses by 2018 we can expect more powerful and next generation of smartphones and portable devices in the future.

Source: CNET | Image via ZDNet

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