Infineon and IBM Present World´s First 16 Mbit MRAM - Innovative Chip Design Results in Highest Density Reported to Date

Jun 22, 2004 | Technology Media

Joint News Release Infineon and IBM

Munich, Germany – June 22, 2004 – Infineon Technologies AG (FSE/NYSE: IFX) and IBM presented the world’s first 16 Mbit Magnetoresistive Random Access Memory (MRAM). This new non-volatile memory chip is the highest density MRAM reported to date demonstrating that MRAM has the potential to become a universal memory for high performance computing and mobile applications.

The increasing number of mobile applications such as smartphones and notebooks with additional multimedia features results in the need for more advanced memory chips. MRAM is a promising candidate for universal memory in high-performance and mobile computing as it is faster and consumes less power than existing technologies.

“With the demonstration of the 16Mbit MRAM we once again underline our leading position in innovative non-volatile technologies,” said Dr. Wilhelm Beinvogl, CTO of the Memory Products Business Group at Infineon Technologies. “Today’s announcement is a major breakthrough in the development of this emerging memory technology.”

The time required to write the first bit of information into an MRAM chip is about one million times faster than the time required for a flash memory chip. The time required to read the first bit of information out of an MRAM chip is about three times faster than a NOR flash chip and about a factor of 1000 faster than in a NAND flash chip. Additionally, MRAM requires much less power in comparison to DRAM technology.

„Advances in high-performance computing have increased the demand for more innovative, powerful and versatile memory technologies,” said Dr. T. C. Chen, Vice President Science and Technology, IBM Research. “IBM is constantly looking for new ways of improving server performance and MRAM could prove to be a powerful component.”

The 16Mbit MRAM product demonstrator is realized in a 0.18µm micron logic based process technology. It utilizes a 1-Transistor 1-Magnetic Tunnel Junction (1T1MTJ) cell and features an SRAM-like interface which is prevalent in mobile and handheld applications and well suited to the operation of the MRAM core. The chip was designed to operate at access and cycle times of 30-40ns. Among published multi-Mbit MRAMs, this new MRAM chip is distinguished by the highest density (16Mbit) accomplished with a cell size of 1.42µm 2. The unique multi-Mbit MRAM design also uses a novel bootstrapped write driver circuit and several design features to reduce the standby current.

The innovative chip design is based on a 1T1MTJ MRAM cell with three metal layers: ground mesh, Write Word Line (WWL) and Bit Line (BL). Only three MRAM-specific levels (VA, MA, MTJ) are required beyond the three-Cu-level CMOS base technology. The low resistance ground mesh allows large uninterrupted arrays. The chip is divided into two 8Mbit units, each of which is split into 64 128Kbit blocks. Each 128Kbit block contains a single array and associated circuits.

About MRAM

MRAM is a memory technology that uses magnetization rather than electric charges to store bits of data and therefore significantly improves portable computing products. This innovative memory technology combines the best features of today's common memories: the write endurance of Dynamic RAM (DRAM), the high speed of Static RAM (SRAM), and the non-volatility of flash memory. Since MRAM retains information when power is turned off, products like personal computers or notebooks using it could start up instantly, without waiting for software to “boot up”.

About IBM Research

IBM Research is the world's largest information technology research organization, with more than 3,000 scientists and engineers at eight labs in six countries. IBM has produced more research breakthroughs than any other company in the IT industry. IBM's early work with MRAM has been conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA).

About Infineon

Infineon Technologies AG, Munich, Germany, offers semiconductor and system solutions for the automotive and industrial sectors, for applications in the wired communications markets, secure mobile solutions as well as memory products. With a global presence, Infineon operates in the US from San Jose, CA, in the Asia-Pacific region from Singapore and in Japan from Tokyo. In fiscal year 2003 (ending September), the company achieved sales of Euro 6.15 billion with about 32,300 employees world-wide. Infineon is listed on the DAX index of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and on the New York Stock Exchange (ticker symbol: IFX). Further information is available at www.infineon.com.

Information Number

INFMP200406.071

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