Crossbar's RRAM to boast terabytes of storage, faster write speeds than NAND

Hardware makers often sing the praises of their latest and greatest flash memory, but the folks at Crossbar are ready to show them up with resistive RAM (RRAM) that they've been quietly working on. Compared to NAND, RRAM comes in at half the size and boasts 20 times faster write speeds (140MB/s), reads data at 17MB per second, guzzles 20 times less power and has 10 times more endurance. Since RRAM is non-volatile memory, it can keep data even when it's powered off, á la NAND. As if that weren't enough, 3D stacking construction allows for several terabytes of storage, endowing one 200 x 200mm 200mm2 chip with one terabyte.

Unlike many tech breakthroughs however -- we're looking at you, graphene -- this one is just about ready to find its way into finished products. Crossbar has manufactured RRAM within a standard chip factory, and claims that it can be churned out easily with existing production infrastructure. According to the firm, it's in the fine-tuning process and plans to introduce the tech into the world of embedded SoCs. Sure, the outfit is the exclusive holder of some RRAM patents, but it aims to license its know-how to system-on-a-chip creators.

Update: Thanks to those readers who spotted our error on the silicon area -- it's now been fixed.

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CROSSBAR EMERGES FROM STEALTH-MODE; UNVEILS CROSSBAR RRAM NON-VOLATILE MEMORY TECHNOLOGY
August 05, 2013

WORKING ARRAY VALIDATES MANUFACTURABILITY AND SIMPLICITY OF CROSSBAR RESISTIVE RAM

Highest Capacity: Up to 1 Terabyte (TB) of Storage on a Single Chip; Multiple Terabytes with 3D Stacking
Lowest Power: Extends Battery Life to Weeks, Months or Years
Highest Performance: 20x Faster Write than NAND
Easiest SOC Integration: Simple Stacking on Logic in Standard CMOS at Most Advanced Nodes
Most Reliable: 10x the Endurance of NAND; Approaching DRAM Reliability

SANTA CLARA, CA – AUGUST 5, 2013 – Emerging from stealth-mode today, Crossbar, Inc., a start-up company pioneering a new category of very high capacity and high-performance non-volatile memory, unveiled its Crossbar Resistive RAM (RRAM) technology. This new generation of non-volatile memory will be capable of storing up to one terabyte (TB) of data on a single 200mm2 chip, enabling massive amounts of information, such as 250 hours of HD movies, to be stored and played back from an IC smaller than a postage stamp. Crossbar today also announced it has developed a working Crossbar memory array at a commercial fab, a major milestone in the development of new memory technology, signaling its readiness to begin the first phase of productization.

Due to its simple three-layer structure, Crossbar technology can be stacked in 3D, delivering multiple terabytes of storage on a single chip. Its simplicity, stackability and CMOS compatibility enable logic and memory to be easily integrated onto a single chip at the latest technology node, a capability not possible with other traditional or alternative non-volatile memory technologies.

"Non-volatile memory is ubiquitous today, as the storage technology at the heart of the over a trillion dollar electronics market – from tablets and USB sticks to enterprise storage systems," said George Minassian, chief executive officer, Crossbar, Inc. "And yet today's non-volatile memory technologies are running out of steam, hitting significant barriers as they scale to smaller manufacturing processes. With our working Crossbar array, we have achieved all the major technical milestones that prove our RRAM technology is easy to manufacture and ready for commercialization. It's a watershed moment for the non-volatile memory industry."

Crossbar's technology will deliver 20x faster write performance, 20x lower power consumption, and 10x the endurance at half the die size, compared to today's best-in-class NAND Flash memory. With that breakthrough performance and reliability, very high capacity and low power consumption, Crossbar will enable a new wave of electronics innovation for consumer, enterprise, mobile, industrial and connected device applications.

Non-volatile memory is the most common storage technology used for both code storage (NOR) and data storage (NAND) in a wide range of electronics applications. According to market research firm Webfeet Research, non-volatile memory is expected to grow to become a $48.4 billion market in 2016. Crossbar plans to bring to market standalone chip solutions, optimized for both code and data storage, used in place of traditional NOR and NAND Flash memory. Crossbar also plans to license its technology to system on a chip (SOC) developers for integration into next-generation SOCs.

SAMPLE OF CROSSBAR TECHNOLOGY APPLICATIONS:

Consumer Electronics, Mobile Phones and Tablets – Stores all of your personal entertainment, data, photos and information in a device that fits in your pocket. Delivers very fast storage, playback, backup and archiving.

Enterprise Storage, SSDs and Cloud Computing – Extends SSD reliability and capacity. Improves performance for enterprise, data center and cloud storage systems.

The Internet of Things; The Industrial Internet – Delivers years of battery life for industrial and connected applications such as smart meters and thermostats. Wide temperature ranges allow for reliability in the extreme heat of the summer or freezing temperatures in the winter. Enables entirely new, highly integrated SOCs that can be powered with a button cell or energy harvesting from the environment such as solar, heat or simple vibrations.

Wearable Computing – Enables a new generation of wearable computing with high capacity storage in a very small, compact size with very low power consumption.

Secure Payments – Can permanently store the codes and encryption keys needed for secure applications such as large volume smart cards to high-end mobile processors for contactless payments.

WORKING MEMORY ARRAY UNDERSCORES SIMPLICITY; READINESS FOR COMMERCIALIZATION

The Crossbar memory cell is based on three simple layers: A non-metallic bottom electrode, an amorphous silicon switching medium and a metallic top electrode. The resistance switching mechanism is based on the formation of a filament in the switching material when a voltage is applied between the two electrodes. This simple and very scalable memory cell structure enables an entirely new class of RRAM, which can be easily incorporated into the back end of line of any standard CMOS manufacturing fab.

After completing the technology transfer to Crossbar's R&D fab and technology analysis and optimization, Crossbar has now successfully developed its demonstration product in a commercial fab. This working silicon is a fully integrated monolithic CMOS controller and memory array chip. The company is currently completing the characterization and optimization of this device and plans to bring its first product to market in the embedded SOC market.