SK Hynix backs Germany’s ferroelectric memory startup
The Series B round was led by MVentures and imec.xpand, with participation of SK Hynix, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, and TEL Venture Capital. Existing investor eCapital also participated in this round having contributed to the previous round of €4.6 million (about US$5 million), which closed in 2018 (see Dresden NVM startup raises funds).
The money would be used to advance the deployment of ferroelectric memory in three areas – embedded non-volatile memory, as storage class memory, and for in-memory compute applications, said Ali Pourkeramati, CEO of Ferroelectric Memory GmbH, which trades as Ferroelectric Memory Company or FMC. FMC plans to expand in Dresden as well as expand its international operations in the US and Asia.
“We have created IP for all applications,” Pourkeramati told eeNews Europe. “We are having discussions with customers.”
Pourkeramati said that in embedded applications FeFET can replace embedded Flash and MRAM down to and beyond 7nm. “We can go to nanowire too, because the memory is based on hafnium oxide.”
FMC’s FeFETs use the ferroelectric properties of hafnium oxide – which is traditionally deployed in CMOS as an insulator – to transform standard CMOS transistors into memory cells. They also can scale with Moore’s law while being low power and offering temperature stability. This also provides the advantage over magnetic RAM of not requiring additional materials in the fab. Alongside these attributes FeFET offers temperature stability, magnetic immunity and high radiation resistance.
FMC has worked with Globalfoundries in Dresden for production of its early memory arrays and prototypes, typically in 40nm CMOS. Pourkeramati said FMC is now working with more than one foundry in Asia as well, but declined to name the companies. Pourkeramati said one of the Asian foundries is particular interested in the possibility of offering FeFET as an embedded memory option. “We can go to AI, CPU, GPU and mobile application processor.”]
Next: Tiered IP and roadmap
FMC is planning to go to market with a tiered intellectual property approach. This will include process IP, device IP and design IP.
The road-map has first availability of FeFET memories on 28nm planar CMOS for consumer applications in 2023 followed by IoT and industrial applications and then by automotive applications.
Pourkeramati said it he was pleased with the strategic nature of the investors who had a clear interest in the potential impact of FeFET technology. MVentures is the venture capital arm of Merck, a performance materials company. SK Hynix is leading supplier of memory components and TEL Ventures is the venture capital arm of Tokyo Electron Ltd., one of the largest suppliers of semiconductor manufacturing equipment.
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