Eli Harari, founder of SanDisk Corp. and a highly-regarded expert in non-volatile memory technology and business, has founded a startup company called SunRise Memory Corp. (San Jose, Calif.) that could soon come out of stealth mode.
Harari is best known as the founder and long-time leader of SanDisk, originally formed under the name SunDisk in 1988. Harari stepped down as CEO and chairman of SanDisk in 2010 and was succeeded by Sanjay Mehotra, now CEO of Micron Technology Inc. (Boise, Idaho). SunDisk was eventually sold to disk drive company Western Digital Corp. for $15.8 billion in May 2016.
Harari was 71 years old in 2016, and could have been enjoying retirement. Or he could have moved on to lighter duties as a supporter of startups through venture capital. But it would seem that he went back to his engineering roots.
Because in July 2016 Harari filed papers to create SunRise Memory Corp. listing himself as president and CEO. Harari also made a series of patent applications with SunRise Memory Corp. as the assignee. Five and half years on the company remains in stealth-mode, but it has taken on an engineering team. A number of memory IC design engineers joined the company in 2019. Some were recruited from a design group belonging to Yangtze Memory Technologies Corp. (YMTC) based in San Jose, California.
So, what does SunRise Memory plan to offer? eeNews Europe approached the company but was told “SunRise is in stealth mode.” However, there are clues in the public domain; in the company’s website address – www.sunrise3d.com – and also in the titles of some of the patents that have been assigned to the company.
For example, US patent 20170148517A1 is titled ‘Three-dimensional vertical nor flash thin film transistor strings’ and was applied for under application number US15/343,332 with the first filing on November 25, 2015. So, it would seem Harari has been inventing techniques to support a form of 3D NOR flash non-volatile memory, just as others, including YMTC, have created 3D NAND flash.
NOR flash differs from NAND flash in having additional address lines to map the complete memory range unlike NAND. This allows random access and short read times, which makes NOR flash more suitable than NAND for code execution. The disadvantage is that it has a larger cell size, higher cost per bit and slower write and erase speeds. The generally accepted wisdom is to use NOR flash for program memory and NAND flash for data storage.
However, if NOR could be stacked in manner similar to 3D-NAND the economics of use may change, particularly if stacked NOR flash could be embedded with logic. The arrival of chiplet-style component manufacturing could also provide opportunities for 3D-NOR flash die.
SunRise Memory raised $74.8 million in a Series C round of finance in October 2019, according to the Pitchbook website. This amount of money, together with a design group and a couple of years to develop prototype products, would suggest that the sun could rise on SunRise soon.
It is not known if Harari continues in the post as the CEO of SunRise Memory but he was still affiliated with the company as of November 2021.
The IEEE awarded Harari its Robert Noyce medal in 2009 and President Obama presented Harari with the US National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 2014.
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