The PCM technology has been tested to operate within automotive requirements for high-temperature operation, radiation hardening, and data retention

By Alex Pluemer, contributing writer

STMicroelectronics
said that it is the first semiconductor provider to combine embedded phase-change memory (ePCM) with 28-nm
FD-SOI technology in automotive microcontrollers (MCUs). The new MCUs featuring
ePCM will target automobile applications like advanced driver assistance
systems (ADAS) and safety systems as well as powertrain systems, secure
gateways, and vehicle electrification.

As automotive applications
become more complex, they need more memory and greater processing power to
function. Larger embedded memories are required to satisfy the needs of
applications that take up more design space and feature more complex firmware
than ever before.

ST believes that
ePCM is an optimal solution to these design challenges. “Having applied ST’s
process, design, technology, and application expertise to ePCM, we’ve developed
an innovative recipe that makes ST the very first to combine this non-volatile
memory with 28-nm FD-SOI for high-performance, low-power automotive
microcontrollers,” according to Marco Monti, president of the Automotive and
Discrete Group at STMicroelectronics. “With samples already in some lead customers’
hands, we’re confirming the outstanding temperature performance of ePCM and its
ability to meet all automotive standards, further assuring our confidence in
its market adoption and success.”

PCM technology is
made from a germanium antimony tellurium alloy that “takes advantage of rapid heat-controlled changes in the
material’s physical property between amorphous and crystalline states,” said
ST. The material exhibits high electrical resistance in its amorphous
state and low resistance in its crystalline state.

In contrast to
flash-based memories, ePCM reads and writes at a low voltage and doesn’t
require a byte- or sector-erase cycle before it can be reprogrammed, delivering
single-bit alterability to ease software handling of data storage.

ST’s PCM technology has been tested to operate within
automotive requirements for high-temperature operation, radiation hardening,
and data retention. ePCM operates in temperatures of up to
165°C and meets all AEC-Q100 Grade 0 automotive requirements.

Products
based on ePCM are sampling to alpha customers. Field trials with full
technology qualification are expected in 2020.