Cerfe needs partners for bulk-switching memory success

October 04, 2020 // By Peter Clarke
Cerfe needs partners for bulk-switching memory success
Here comes the latest the memory startup eager to show it can be the breakthrough in non-volatile memory that industry needs; even the 'universal' memory that can replace everything from SRAM to long-term storage.

The name is Cerfe Labs (see ARM forms spin-off to pursue CeRAM memory) and one might be tempted to say "get in line" except there is something a bit different about this startup, the claim of bulk-switching between metal and insulator.

Back in 2014 I gave the opinion that ARM's move into non-volatile memory research was a good thing (see ARM's turn to non-volatile memory is right move).

Now ARM, the intellectual property licensing parent, has pushed its fledgling NVM research out of the nest, in the form of Cerfe Labs, headquartered in Austin, Texas. In so doing it has hopefully created a nimble startup that may be able to fly and take bulk-switching forward to a significant place in semiconductor development

ARM is a minority shareholder in the startup and is bank rolling it for now, so it could continue to benefit from progress made there, although further dilution of its interest through rounds of venture capital is to be expected. It could be argued that after five years of research ARM is giving up on a potentially significant and fundamental materials technology.

But there again significant brain power is not giving up on the technology. The fledgling includes numerous ARM alumni including former ARM Fellow Greg Yeric; Eric Hennenhoefer, a former vice president of research at ARM; and distinguished engineer Lucian Shifren who has spent several years leading the materials research project at ARM.

Yeric observed in email correspondence with eeNews Europe: "ARM would like to see this technology be successful but they are a few steps removed from the initial users, which is why they are spinning us out."

This makes some sense but such an exodus of talent from the research pool at ARM does give pause for thought about ARM under SoftBank Group ownership, and uncertainty caused by Nvidia's offer to buy the company, which may or may not go through (see Opinion: Nvidia's bad deal is not yet done).

Next: ARM's loss is Cerfe's gain

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