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Everspin Raises MRAM Density

October 15, 2019

Author: Bob Wheeler

Commercializing new memories is a long and hazardous road. After more than a decade as an independent company, Everspin is expanding the discrete-MRAM market beyond its early niche. It recently announced production of second-generation spin-torque magnetoresistive RAM (ST-MRAM), which pushes device density to one gigabit (Gb). Although the company is focusing on ST-MRAM for future products, lower-density toggle MRAMs generated nearly all of its $40 million in 2018 product revenue. It also earns licensing and royalty revenue from its intellectual property; GlobalFoundries offers the Everspin technology for embedded MRAM (eMRAM).

All MRAMs are nonvolatile, but write endurance as well as latency vary by implementation. Everspin’s ST-MRAM sits between DRAM and storage-class memory (SCM), such as Intel’s 3D XPoint, in access latency. Although toggle MRAM combines nonvolatility with essentially unlimited endurance, the ST-MRAM can endure only 10 billion write cycles, which is still several orders of magnitude better than flash memory. To ease system design, Everspin equips its 1Gb device with a DDR4-compatible interface. It withheld pricing, but the 1Gb MRAM per-bit price is several times that of DRAM.

Owing to its relatively low density, Everspin’s 1Gb device doesn’t compete directly with DRAM for main memory, nor does it compete with SCM for bulk storage. Its combination of good performance and nonvolatility makes it attractive for nonvolatile write buffers, which otherwise employ volatile RAM backed by batteries or supercapacitors. The company claims, however, that process scaling will enable it to close the capacity gap versus DRAM in three to five years. Competitive density may allow it to target nonvolatile DIMMs and other persistent-memory applications. In the meantime, Everspin has shipped more than 120 million cumulative units to over 1,000 customers, establishing itself as the discrete-MRAM leader. 

Subscribers can view the full article in the Microprocessor Report.

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