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Toshiba Developing Energy Saving MRAM for Smartphones

December 10, 2012 - Written By Kody Frazier

As development in the smartphone market moves toward lighter and more energy-efficient hardware, Toshiba announced today that they have created a new type of MRAM memory that could cut down power consumption in mobile CPU’s by as much as two-thirds. This drastic reduction in used energy comes as the industry has been struggling with increasingly heavy loads placed on the SRAM technology used in most mobile devices at this time.

“Recently, the amount of SRAM used in mobile application processors has been increasing, and this has increased the power usage,” said Toshiba spokesman Atsushi Ido. “This research is focused on cutting the power consumption, while increasing speed, as opposed to increasing the amount of memory.”

This development in MRAM technology uses spin-torque technology, a method in which the electrons are spun in a manner that allows them to set the orientation of their magnetic bits, lowering the charge required for writing data. The elements in the new MRAM are smaller than 30nm. Current RAM systems use electric charges to store memory, whereas the new Toshiba system uses magnetic storage. This method allows the units to retain data even without power. Developments of this technology are in the early phases of being designed to eventually replace flash and DRAM technology. There is no time-frame for market release on this product, but more information should be available as the company gears up to market its new technology to mobile device manufacturers.

Toshiba is not the only company using spin-torque technology, just last month Everspin shipped its first MRAM chips to replace their DRAM chips. Everspin was the first company to get their ST (spin-torque) system out on the market, and the company views the new chips as buffer memory in solid-state drives and as fast-access memory. This technology should prove especially effective in data centers and other systems under a large data load.

The next release of information from Toshiba should come at the IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting, which will be held in San Francisco later this week. The IEEE organization (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) promotes research on electrical engineering projects, including development in the semi-conductor industry.