In terms of applications Schmergel is hopeful that NRAM can replace battery-backed DRAM cache chips in the front end of magnetic hard drives and solid-state drives. If the DRAM is replaced with NRAM no supercapacitor is required to keep data alive and the superior performance of NRAM would improve the speed of the drive, Schmergel said.
Schmergel is also expecting that NRAM could find application in smartphones and tablet computers where it could insert as a new memory layer between DRAM and NAND flash.
For now NRAM is not going to compete with multilayer NAND flash but it could displace DRAM while offering non-volatility and thereby offering faster operation and improved standby mode. "Customers will also look at a dedicated NRAM-plus-flash architecture," Schmergel said, although may prefer to make gradual transition for reasons of engineering management caution.
"Automotive is also a focus area for us and we are working with automotive and automotive supply companies," said Schmergel. "The need for fast memory in automotive has skyrocketed and the high temperature operation of our memory makes it a good choice."
Schmergel said he also expects to be able to displace flash memory in IoT applications where NRAM offers low power in both active and standby modes. "We are substantially lower than flash in write energy."
There is also scope for using NRAMs as replacements for DRAM in articifical intelligence and machine learning applications. "Speed is an issue for these applications, power is an issue and heat is an issue." Schemergel said that initially NRAMs deployment would likely be as DRAM replacements in data centers running AI applications. But he added that, as with other non-volatile memories such as phase-change memory (PCM), researchers are looking at how to use the CNT stack as an analog for neuronal behaviour and how to use an NRAM array of neuromorphic computing. "NRAM could perform neuronal processing at far higher speeds than PCM is capable of, at lower power and temperature stability than PCM and with higher endurance," Schmergel concluded.
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