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

Kragen Sitaker < kragen at pobox.com > on > Mon Jul 10 22:01:12 PDT 2006

On Mon, Jul 10, 2006 at 11:55:33PM -0400, Kragen Sitaker wrote:
> 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?

The white paper
(http://www.freescale.com/files/memory/doc/white_paper/MRAMWP.pdf) says:

	Comparison to Other Memory Technologies

	     Comparison of MRAM with other memory
	technologies suggests that it can be competitive in overall
	performance. Since MRAM is nonvolatile, it retains the
	data when completely turned off. System power can be
	significantly reduced compared to DRAM by shutting
	down the MRAM when inactive since there is no
	background refreshing required. The straightforward
	integration scheme used for MRAM makes it easier to
	embed.
	     Comparison with SRAM shows that MRAM will
	compete favorably in cost because of its smaller cell size.
	It also is non-volatile, which is only available in more
	complex and expensive battery backup solutions for
	SRAM.
	     When compared with Flash, MRAM achieves much
	better performance in write characteristics since no high-
	voltage tunneling mode is required and MRAM write cycle
	is much faster. MRAM consumes much less energy in a
	write cycle because the energy/bit is several orders of
	magnitude lower than Flash.         In addition, MRAM
	endurance is unlimited, with no known or expected
	deterioration mechanism, while typical Flash endurance is
	only 10^5 write cycles.

So they expect it to be cheaper than SRAM (which it isn't yet, not by a
long shot), and last longer (which they aren't willing to stand behind
yet, qualifying it for their "commercial" tier, i.e. 5-year lifetime)
and use less energy than Flash.  Maybe that suggests an economic niche,
even at the current pricing?  $200 memory cards that make your digital
camera last longer between recharges?

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