Flash Memory Summit 2020 – Embedded Memory Summary

November 2020

I had the pleasure of joining the Flash Memory Summit 2020, held as a virtual event this year. The main focus of this conference is on Storage memories, still there was quite a few interesting presentation from an embedded NVM perspective. Below a few of the many observations taken from this event:

Session C-3: Annual Update on New Memory Technologies Mark Webb, MKW Ventures

Mark Webb explained the typical development timeline and information flow for new memory technology very well. New memory technology typically takes 7-8 years of development, including an information stealth period of several years while companies productize their offerings.

Given this timeline Mr. Webb seeks to shift focus from “emerging memories” to “emerged memories”. He sends a call for action to the industry to focus investments on productizing these already emerged memories, rather than continuing to look at new technologies.

Mr. Webb is seeing consensus that MRAM is primed to take over most of the traditional embedded Flash applications below 28nm. This assumes that the magnetic immunity issues and other reliability concerns can be resolved sufficiently to allow wide adoption. TSMC and others has published articles with various ideas on this topic at IEDM 2019 and ISSCC 2020.

Overall it was a very good summary session on the general status of embedded NVM memories, although with a storage focus.

Session C-3: RRAM - Now Used in IoT, AI, and Data Center Storage Tom Coughlin, Coughlin Associates

Tom Coughlin presented a good overview of the current status of ReRAM/RRAM in the industry today with key players and availability, also including the recent Adesto acquisition by Dialog and Arms spinoff of CerfeLabs.

TSMC was mentioned for their RRAM offering with Mr Coughlin commenting that Infineon are planning to launch a MCU SOC with embedded RRAM from TSMC this year.

Session C-4: What Will Replace Flash and When? (Panel Session) w. Simone Berolazzi of Yole Development, Jeongdong Choe of TechInsights and Tom Coughlin of Coughlin Associates

In this panel session there was wide agreement that MRAM is currently seen as the best alternative to replace embedded NOR Flash. Mr. Coughlin showed a block diagram of the production ready Apollo4 SOC from Ambiq using a 2MB embedded MRAM from TSMC in the 22ULL process.

As Mr. Coughlin also pointed out in this session, IP vendors and foundries can tradeoff different characteristics of the MRAM MTJ wrt. stability, immunity and read/write performance. Note that some foundries, like GF, have different MRAM IP offerings targeting eFlash or SRAM replacement.

Session C-9: Flash and Other Emerging Memory Technology Trends Jeongdong Choe, TechInsights

Jeongdong Choe presented a high-level roadmap of the emerging memories landscape including most of the players in embedded MRAM, ReRAM, PCM (XPoint) and eFlash.

Mr. Choe also showed details and MTJ structure of the Samsung 28FDSOI MRAM used in a Sony GPS receiver, enabling comparison with Everspin’s MTJ stack.

About MemXcell

MemXcell provides expert consulting to system-on-chip (SoC) development teams who are integrating embedded non-volatile memory (eNVM) IP into their products.

Our expertise spans all NVM technologies, from charge-based flash and MTP/OTP to emerging memories like RRAM and MRAM. We have extensive experience in mobile, IOT, security, and automotive applications.

MemXcell offers highly skilled assistance through all phases of product development, helping you to beat your competitors in the marketplace.

Contact us if you have questions about this study, use of MRAM and MRAM technology in general, or to hear more about our services. You can also read more on the memxcell.com website, or follow us on LinkedIn for new updates and articles.