Numerous emerging memory technologies have been developed over recent decades as potential replacements for flash memory, which struggles to scale below 40nm. Market analyst Yole reckons that in the first half of this decade phase change memory (PCM), magnetic RAM (MRAM) and resistive RAM (ReRAM) will have a major impact in the market with processes at 22nm and finer geometries.
There are other forms of emerging NVM – such as ferroelectric RAM, correlated electron RAM (CeRAM) and carbon nanotube based memories – but these are not expected to take any significant market in the time period of Yole's forecast.
The embedded NVM market will enjoy the greatest success with a compound annual growth rate of 110 percent over the period 2020 to 2026. This will take the market from $26 million in 2020 to $2.3 billion in 2026. MRAM already leads in this sector with offerings from leading foundries TSMC and Globalfoundries at 22nm and from Samsung at 28nm. UMC and Intel are developing embedded MRAM capability.
Embedded emerging non-volatile memory market revenues 2020 and 2026, Source: Yole Developpement.
MRAM is set to increase its hold on the embedded NVM market rising to 76 percent by 2026 and with PCM taking just 2 percent of that market. It is being championed for NVM applications in automotive by STMicroelectronics (see ST samples MCU with embedded phase-change memory).
The stand-alone NVM market is already larger than the embedded NVM market but it will grow at a slower rate. It will move from US$595 million in 2020 to about US$3.3 billion in 2026, a CAGR of 33 percent over the period.
In this area PCM already dominates with 90 percent market share thanks to 3D XPoint products sold by Intel in a bundle with its server CPUs. Some argue that Intel is selling these memories at a loss. Over the next five years MRAM and ReRAM will only gradually take stand-alone market share from PCM.