[FoRK] magnetic RAM --- who's the target audience at this point?

Kragen Sitaker < kragen at pobox.com > on > Mon Jul 10 20:55:33 PDT 2006

So the BBC had a content-free slashdotted article about Freescale going
into volume production of MRAM.  Freescale's page is less content-free:

http://www.freescale.com/webapp/sps/site/prod_summary.jsp?code=MR2A16A&tid=FSH

says the MR2A16A is 4 megabits, 35ns read or write, and $25 apiece.  Who
would buy it at that price?  Seems that 4-megabit 15ns SRAM chips cost
$5-$10, which leaves plenty of budget for 4 megabits of flash.  Is the
idea that you get to drop your design's chip count by one?  That you can
erase a byte at a time, unlike flash?  Does it last longer than flash?
(The datasheet only recommends using it for five-year applications.)
Does it use less power than SRAM?  (The $4 70ns Cypress chip I compare
it to below says it could have standby current of up to 20 microamps,
while the MR2A16A advertises 1 microamp.)

I'm excited to see non-volatile RAM coming back into the mainstream ---
you can't get much more mainstream than Freescale --- but I don't
understand what market Freescale is selling into at the moment.

Everything except SRAM is much cheaper:
Type          Capacity      Price   Unit Price    Reference
MRAM          4 megabits    $25.00  $25.00/4mb    above Freescale page
SRAM          4 megabits    $3.98   $3.98/4mb     Digi-Key 428-1075-ND
NOR flash     4 megabits    $1.35   $1.35/4mb     Digi-Key AT26F004-SU-ND
NAND flash    1 gigabyte    $24.50  $0.012/4mb    Lexar 1 gigabyte SD card 
                                                  via digi4me.com
PC5600 SDRAM  1 gigabyte    $150    $0.075/4mb    Pricewatch page 
                                                  http://www.pricewatch.com/memory/278252-1.htm 
                                                  quotes Corsair 
                                                  TWIN2X1024-5400C4PRO at $159
hard disks    400 gigabyte  $200    $0.00025/4mb  Pricewatch page 
                                                  http://www.pricewatch.com/hard_drives/17244-1.htm
                                                  ranges from $154 to $205

In this environment where everything else (except SRAM) ranges from
twenty times cheaper to a hundred thousand times cheaper, what's the
market for MRAM priced like this?

(I'd send a copy of this note to Freescale, but apparently I would have
to agree to their "Extranet Access Agreement" first, so I won't bother.)

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