Samsung has begun mass-producing the 28nm-based eMRAM it demonstrated back in 2016, a technology that’s scalable, easy to implement, and is both faster and more power-efficient than eFlash, the current embedded RAM standard. To be specific, it uses about 1/400 the power of eFlash during writes, and uses none in power-off state. As for speed, it’s about 1,000 times faster than eFlash in most use cases. Its easy-to-implement structure and lack of volatility, meanwhile, mean that it can be a great fit for just about any use case where embedded RAM may be needed.
This new solution from Samsung solves a number of scalability and use case issues. For starters, it’s a non-volatile form of memory that’s extremely power-efficient. That’s because it doesn’t need any electricity to store data. The data state is stored via the interaction of two ferromagnetic layers on either side of a thin barrier. Electricity passing through will flip the polarity of the film on one side in areas that correspond to a 1 vs a 0 in binary, making the eMRAM exceedingly easy to read and write, and allowing it to store data even when powered down.
As for ease of use and implementation, Samsung’s new eMRAM product can be plugged right in to many existing substrates and product layouts. It only needs three masks atop a given substrate, which means that it’s quite thin and can be put almost anywhere on the substrate design. What that ends up meaning is that it’s viable for everything from mobile SOCs to TVs, IoT gear and everything in between.
The 2016 design that was iterated on and eventually became this mass-production model is based on Samsung’s own 28FDS process technology. As with processors and other types of RAM, processes for eMRAM will be refined over time. Samsung already has plans to begin making eMRAM with 18FDS. Eventually, “more advanced processes” will also get on board, such as finFET, a 3D transistor process that’s common in the manufacture of mobile processors.
Samsung’s eMRAM mass production is essentially a breakthrough in the embedded RAM field. Its power efficiency, speed, and ease of implementation handily beat anything the current market has to offer. You’ll almost certainly be seeing gear with Samsung’s new eMRAM solution contained somewhere inside before the end of this year, and it’s going to speed processors up significantly, add new capabilities to small IoT devices, and make tons of device types more power efficient, to name just a few benefits.
What this means for you as a consumer is simple; prices won’t change much, but everything is about to get faster and more capable. That goes double or even more when Samsung starts moving eMRAM creation out to other manufacturing processes that are more compatible with other use cases, and may even offer better power efficiency and other perks. Samsung has long been one of the dominant players in the RAM field among all sorts of solutions, so this new eMRAM isn’t likely to cause any shakeups. Likewise, while it’s vastly more speedy and power-efficient than current solutions, it’s not exactly a game-changer, and will likely not open up new embedded RAM use cases.