Samsung To Unveil Mobile-Friendly MRAM Next Month

Samsung has developed a new type of mobile-friendly RAM, called MRAM, which they reportedly plan to show their new creation to the world at their Foundry Forum Event, to be held in Santa Clara, California on May 24th. MRAM, which stands for magnetoresistant random access memory, is non-volatile, and uses a magnetic technology called spin torque transfer to read and write data up to 1,000 times faster than existing NAND solutions, all while using less power when active, and none at all when it's inactive. The new MRAM is fast and cheap to produce, but current production technology tends to produce samples with extremely small storage sizes, which means that they will be powering the cache portions of mobile processors, rather than supplanting traditional DRAM or flash storage. Anything out of the range of a few megabytes is essentially out of the question for the time being.

Samsung had help from IBM in developing their take on MRAM technology, and managed to beat Toshiba, who had reportedly been working on MRAM since 2012, out of the gate. Their first partner with the new technology will be NXP, and they'll be making a variety of silicon for them that features the new MRAM chips. The chips will end up in boards for NXP's IoT products, and will eventually make their way out to other products, such as mobile processors, firmware chips for TVs and the like, and just about any other use case where a low-capacity, high-speed chip could conceivably fit the bill.

One of the most promising implications of the rise of MRAM is in the world of smartphones, tablets, Chromebooks, and other such mobile devices. The cache portion, volatile storage on board the processor meant for storing what's being used at that exact millisecond, is accessed constantly. This means that use of the cache can be a serious energy drain, depending on how much power it draws and the technology behind it. The faster and larger a given cache portion attached to a chip is, the faster the chip itself can perform without the threat of losing instructions in the pipeline. Samsung's new MRAM making into the cache of mobile processors could mean far better performance and battery life, due to the standard's high speeds and low energy use.

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