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MRAM Makes a Move into the Embedded Space

Aug. 16, 2018 – 

MRAM is a non-volatile memory (NVM) that competes with other NVM technologies like flash, Intel's Optane, FRAM, and RRAM (Fig. 1). Each has its strengths and weaknesses, with flash being the dominant player across the board. Though MRAM continues to scale well, its capacity is still much lower than NAND flash, which makes up the bulk of high-density storage used in SSDs.

There are many myths about MRAM. What's interesting is the possibility of it replacing significant portions of SRAM, especially in embedded applications where SRAM is used for code storage. Texas Instruments (TI) uses FRAM for code and data storage in its 16-bit MSP430 microcontrollers. However, FRAM doesn't scale as well as MRAM when it comes to finer geometries, although it's ideal for the space it's being used in.

Embedded RAM (eMRAM) has advantages like fast read/write times and high endurance (Fig. 2). It's also much more interesting to chip developers given MRAM's support by major silicon foundries. This allows eMRAM to be incorporated into new chip designs with minimal cost overhead.

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