More than 20 Japanese and U.S. chip makers have agreed to put in their efforts to jointly develop the technology needed to mass-produce the next-generation memory chip called MRAM (magneto-resistive random access memory). The effort will be led by U.S. semiconductor giant Micron Technology and Tokyo Electron of Japan, hoping to perfect the technology within three years and start mass production as early as 2018.
MRAM is touted to be the next frontier for computing memory, and will be a very big improvement over the current standard, which is DRAM (dynamic random access memory). Unlike the conventional DRAM or even Flash RAM chip technologies, data in MRAM is not stored as electric charge, but by magnetic storage elements. As such, this new technology will have a memory capacity 10 times that of DRAM and reduce its electricity draw to about two-thirds that of the existing standard. MRAM backers say that this will translate to real-world benefits including much faster computing times and lower power consumption, leading to longer-lasting batteries – especially for mobile devices.
Other participants in the research project are based at Tohoku University in Sendai, northern Japan, including Shin-Etsu Chemical, Renesas Electronics and Hitachi. Japan’s Toshiba and SK Hynix of South Korea are also jointly developing MRAM in a separate project while South Korea’s Samsung Electronics is doing its own research on the new chip. MRAM’s read-write speeds are drastically faster than DRAM even in its most ideal setup, and thousands of times faster than Flash RAM. This makes it the ideal next rung in the mass-produced memory chip ladder.
[via Yahoo News]