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New ReRAM chip consumes 50-100 times less power for IoT

Lucas Mearian | Feb. 24, 2016
By 2020, there will be 20.8 billion IoT devices requiring high speed, low power storage.

Adesto Technologies yesterday introduced a new conductive bridging RAM (CBRAM) memory chip for battery-operated or energy-harvesting electronics used in the Internet of Things (IoT) market.

Adesto's new CBRAM chip, a form of resistive RAM (ReRAM) non-volatile memory, is able to perform read and write operations with 50 to 100 times lower power than NOR flash.

The line of chips, called Moneta, will only store up to 256 kilobits (Kbit) of data each because they're meant for use in sensors or wearables where they only temporarily store the data before transmitting it. The chips will be used in everything from medical devices and industrial machinery to building HVAC systems.

Adesto Technologies' conductive bridging RAM chip. Credit: 
Adesto Technologies

For example, the chips will be used for building environmental sensors and can log data that will help track and regulate temperature and airflow.

The CBRAM chips could also be used in health and fitness trackers, such as Fitbits, which monitor the number of steps a wearer takes over a set period of time or measure a person's heart rate and other vital signs.

ReRAM uses a passive two-terminal electrode that stores data using ions that change the electrical resistance.

ReRAM can greatly reduce the energy consumption of modern IT systems while increasing performance, according to researchers from the Jülich Aachen Research Alliance (JARA).

ReRAM is based on the "memory resistor" concept, also called memristor. The term memristor was coined by University of California, Berkeley, scientist Leon Chua in the early 1970s.

Until memristor, researchers knew of only three basic circuit elements -- the resistor, the capacitor and the inductor. Memristor added a fourth, which consumed far less energy than previous technologies.

Adesto already has 500 customers that have integrated its previous NAND flash or CBRAM chips into products, according to CEO Narbeh Derhacobian.

Adesto's last CBRAM chip, called Mavriq Serial Memory, used about .25 milliamps (mA or one thousandth of an amp) for reads and 1mA for writes and 1µW (a microwatt or one millionth of a watt) in standby mode.

Adesto's new Moneta CBRAM chips use 10µW for reads and 7.5µW for writes and has an "Ultra-Deep-Power-Down" standby mode that uses just 0.05µW.

Mavriq was a drop-in replacement for memory in a standard ROM serial socket. Moneta is not designed for a standard socket; it is specifically designed as a companion chip for ultra-low energy IoT systems, such as smart medical devices and ultra low energy or energy harvesting sensors of the future.

"Mavriq is still very low-power compared to other chips, but limited by the design of existing sockets," an Adesto spokesman said. "Moneta is a brand new design for memory that really demonstrates the full capability of CBRAM and sets a blueprint for the future. That's why we're saying it's the first ever chip built from the ground up for IoT."


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