ARM, Applied, seek to replace SRAM with MRAM

November 12, 2018 // By Peter Clarke
MRAM developer Spin Transfer Technologies Inc. has changed its name to Spin Memory Inc. (Fremont, Calif.) and raised $52 million in a Series B funding round led by Applied Ventures LLC and ARM Ltd., as the three companies seek to establish an embedded MRAM process option.

Applied Ventures LLC is the venture capital arm of chipmaking equipment vendor Applied Materials Inc. Spin Transfer Technologies was established in 2007 and has been wholly-owned by incubator company Allied Minds.

Applied, ARM and Spin Memory are looking to go beyond the use of embedded MRAM as on-chip non-volatile cache memory to replace flash, which would replicate what has been done by Globalfoundries Inc. and Intel Corp. (see IEDM: Intel embeds MRAM in FinFET process).

Rather the trio is looking for further improvements in embedded MRAM to allow it to replace SRAM in registers, flip-flops, scratch-pad memories very close to and within the logic circuits. With the instant retention of state implied by this, such non-volatility could have a major impact on how microprocessors and microcontrollers could be designed to operate. MRAM already has the advantage of non-volatility and density over SRAM memory cells, which typically use six transistors for implementation, but it needs to demonstrate exceptional endurance cycling to be applicable in logic.

ARM Fellow Greg Yeric told eeNews Europe recently that spin-orbit torque MRAM technology might achieve the appropriate speed-endurance trade-offs to allow MRAM introduction into core logic, which could trigger a revolution in microprocessor and microcontroller architectures (see MRAM revolution could trigger new ARM architecture).

The funding and commercial agreements between the three companies is part of a drive to establish MRAM as a mainstream alternative to both embedded SRAM and a range of non-volatile memories, Spin Memory said in a statement.

The funding comprised $29.0 million raised from Applied, ARM and existing investors and $23.0 million from the exercise of convertible securities subscribed for in earlier round by Allied Minds, Woodford Investment Management and Invesco Asset Management. As part of the deal ARM will licensing of Spin Memory’s Endurance Engine design IP to address static random-access memory (SRAM) application in SoCs.

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