CEO interview: FMC's Pourkeramati on roadmaps, turning away investors

November 17, 2020 // By Peter Clarke
CEO interview: FMC's Pourkeramati on roadmaps, turning away investors
eeNews Europe spoke to Ali Pourkeramati, CEO at Ferroelectric Memory Company (FMC), as the company received the boost of $20 million to bring its non-volatile memory business to market.

Pourkeramati joined FMC as CEO in 2019 (see Ferroelectric Memory Co. puts Spansion veteran in charge) having held several senior positions at Spansion Inc. and Cypress Semiconductor from 2005 to 2015. He had founded flash memory company Azalea Microelectronics Corp. in 1995 and was its CEO up until 2004.

FMC's latest backers include Merck, SK Hynix, IMEC, Robert Bosch and Tokyo Electron plus existing investor eCapital (see SK Hynix backs Germany's ferroelectric memory startup). These companies wanted to provide more than $20 million, and there were others including leading foundries that wanted to invest, but FMC declined these additional offers for now, Pourkeramati said.

We will come to that later but Pourkeramati's first point was to praise the properties of hafnium oxide as a ferroelectric material that also happens to be in widespread use in wafer fabs as an insulating layer in modern ICs. And he claims the ferroelectric field effect transistor (FeFET) is a natural replacement for embedded flash which struggles to scale beyond 28nm.

Unlike embedded flash, FeFET's endurance is high at 10^11 cycles and is expected to go closer to that of MRAM at 10^15 cycles and with switching speeds of less than 1ns and switching energy of less than 1fJ per bit, Pourkeramati points out. 

The FeFET works by using non-volatile ferroelectric property to shift the transistor threshold voltage. Source: FMC.

The fundamental switching speed is very high but in the array it does depend on the loading of the word and bit lines. We have a 32Mbit memory macro at about 10ns. If you want to read faster you go smaller and more distributed so there is a design aspect to it," said Pourkeramati.

Next: Logic friendly

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