Advancements from Everspin, Toshiba, and UMC are only a few examples of some of the latest memory technologies reaching the market this year

By Jean-Jacques DeLisle, contributing writer

At the recent Flash Memory Summit (FMS), several
companies from around the world demoed new memory technology that could change
the face of data storage in the future. The summit is an opportunity for
companies to show off their latest advancements and to market to engineers from
around the world. In this article, we look at some of the new products and
announcements that were unveiled at FMS.

Everspin Technologies Inc. announced some interesting technology at the summit,
including its new Spin-Transfer MRAM (STT-MRAM) technologies. The new products
include Everspin’s 40-nm 256-Mb STT-MRAM memory. The new design adds to the
company’s NVMe solution, bringing low-latency data persistence of MRAM.

By adding the speed of MRAM to NVMe products,
they can achieve higher levels of performance and reliability as well as
increased storage capacity. Everspin also demoed its NVMe-over-Fabric design
(NVMe-oF). In the demo, two servers connected over a high-speed Ethernet fabric
via an nvNITRO accelerator. The technology enables communication to memory
locations without having to access a system CPU, an arrangement that allows for
faster and more efficient data communication.

 

Another company, SMART Modular Technologies, has
worked with Everspin to create the nvNITRO NVMe storage accelerator. The
accelerator uses 256-Mb STT-MRAM to send data at a low latency and high
consistency.

Image: Everspin.

Toshiba Memory America, Inc. unveiled its prototype sample of the new 96-layer BiCS FLASH
with quad-level cell (QLC) technology, a three-dimensional flash memory chip. The
prototype boasts a 4-bit-per-cell (QLC) design. Previous flash memory chips
have had only a 3-bit-count-per-cell maximum.

 

The new Toshiba chip features an industry maximum
of 1.33 terabits for a single chip, coupled with a 16-die stacked architecture.
The combination of these new features results in a yet unachieved capacity of
up to 2.66 terabytes.

While this technology is only in the prototype
phase, Toshiba has released a newly available lineup of solid-state drives
(SSDs) that are modeled on its 96-layer BiCS FLASH memory. The new series,
labeled XG6, is designed for client PCs and high-performance gaming technology
and data center environments. The XG6 lineup features triple-level cell (TLC)
BiCS FLASH technology to increase the performance of its SSDs. The newly
developed technology boasts a 40% increase over its 64-layer 3D flash memory
counterparts.

 

Future technology strategies were also announced
at the summit, including a plan to replace embedded flash memory with MRAM. United
Microelectronics Corporation
(UMC) has partnered with other companies to bring MRAM to
market. Embedded non-volatile MRAM blocks that have been designed with the UMC’s
28-nm CMOS manufacturing process could be used in microcontrollers (MCUs) and on
integrated circuits like SoCs. The MRAM memory block technology is supposed to
provide extremely low latency and high performance at a low-power level. The
design will target applications in the internet of things (IoT) and wearable
technology fields. Tentative plans to expand the technology beyond 28 nm have
been mentioned.

Avalanche Technology Inc., a company working with UMC, can provide CMOS scalability
and advanced process nodes. These technologies, in tandem, can allow for the
integration of unified memory blocks into the next generation of
microcontrollers and SOCs without forcing designers to change the architecture
or software ecosystem of their projects.

 

These are only some of the announcements made at
FMS, and many more technologies have been produced to advance memory storage.
The next generation of technology is sure to feature some of these advancements
as memory storage is quickly becoming faster, more efficient, and more
powerful.