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SOT MRAM Improves Access Speed

September 28, 2021

Author: Aakash Jani

Antaios, a French startup, is leading the commercialization of spin-orbit-torque (SOT) magnetoresistive RAM (MRAM). This nonvolatile technology promises SRAM-like performance with near-zero leakage as well as greater longevity and lower read/write latencies than the previous MRAMs. Additionally, its bit density is greater than SRAM’s, helping extend Moore’s Law.

SOT MRAM stores individual bits by altering the angular momentum of electrons. It’s a new competitor to spin-transfer-torque (STT) MRAM and toggle MRAM. The SOT concept emerged in 2006, pioneered by Freescale. Antaios has received test chips but is far from production; it hopes to commercialize the technology by 2024. Undisclosed AI and microcontroller vendors are interested in the new technology.

Founded in 2017 in Grenoble, France, Antaios has an unusual Greek name that derives from a mythical giant. The founders—four engineers with vast memory-design experience at companies such as Cypress, IBM, and Micron—are Jean-Pierre Nozieres (CEO), Jean-Pascal Bost (CFO), Witold Kula (CTO), and Marc Drouard (head of R&D). The small company recently closed its Series A funding round for $11 million, led by Applied Materials’ venture fund.

The established STT MRAM is already in production, delivering performance and power improvements over embedded flash memory. At Hot Chips 2021, Antaios showed how its new SOT MRAM could make further headway. It claims the technology will reduce die area by 20–50%, cut power by up to 90%, and increase performance by almost 2x. SOT could be a boon to manufacturers, which are delivering slower SRAM scaling in leading-edge nodes.

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