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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.

While the capacity of the Moneta CBRAM new chips is nominal, they are set apart from any other non-volatile memory product in that they're the only ReRAM chips shipping today for a market that is set to experience enormous growth and change this year.

Intel and Micron announced last year that they will begin shipping a resistive RAM product called Optane this year.

Optane, which is the brand name for a technology called 3D Xpoint, is 10 times denser than DRAM, and 1,000 times faster and durable than flash storage, according to its makers.

"We wrote a report on that in October, and estimate that it could optimistically ship over $2 billion worth of product in 2019, provided absolutely everything goes right. Samsung was recently quoted by BusinessKorea as having their own version of this," said Jim Handy, director of market research firm Objective Analysis.

Handy said the ReRAM market is still relatively small, with about $100 million in revenue a year. By comparison, the DRAM and NAND flash markets each represent about a $30 billion a year in sales, he said.

Gartner, however, predicts 6.4 billion IoT devices will be in use this year, a 30% increase over last year. By 2020, that number will increase to 20.8 billion. Those IoT devices will need extremely low-power, high-performance non-volatile memory to store data.

"IoT and smart nodes are at the heart of the industry that is believed to be the biggest semiconductor volume driver in history," Derhacobian said.

Last year, Hewlett-Packard and SanDisk also announced an agreement to jointly develop "Storage Class Memory" (SCM) ReRAM that could replace DRAM and would be 1,000 times faster than NAND flash.

The SCM products are expected to be marketed for use in enterprise cloud infrastructures.They are based on HP's memristor technology.

"Nearly everyone in the memory arena is developing some sort of ReRAM, but Adesto is relatively alone in shipping it," Handy said.

Phase-change memory (PCM), which some companies call ReRAM, is being shipped by Micron today, and STMicroelectronics and Intel and their spinoff Numonyx formerly sold it.

Gideon Intrater, chief technology officer for Adesto, said the company's CBRAM chips use about 100 times less power than NOR for data reads and 50 times less for writes.

"Our memory helps extend battery life by about 30%," Intrater said.

Among other uses, the chips will be distributed in thousands of tiny sensors in a skyscraper where they'd collect data about atmospheric conditions. If a sensor's onboard data storage required a lot of energy, it would also require that the batteries be changed often -- an arduous task with thousands of tiny sensors.


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