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HP and Hynix to produce the memristor goods by 2013

18 months to go, baby

By Chris Mellor, 10 Oct 2011

An HP/Hynix memristor product should be here in 18 months – and PCM, MRAM and RRAM are all memristor-type technologies...

As reported by EETimes, this came out at the International Electronics Forum in Seville, in a presentation by Stan Williams, a senior HP Labs Fellow.

The report quotes Williams saying: "We have a lot of big plans for it and we're working with Hynix Semiconductor to launch a replacement for flash in the summer of 2013 and also to address the solid-state drive market."

HP will target multi-layer memristor technology at the DRAM market in 2014/2015, with the SRAM market in its sights after that.

Ongoing manufacturing trials involve running hundreds of wafers through a full-size Hynix fab. Williams said that memristor cost/bit could be an order of magnitude less than NAND, after initial costs are out of the way. We don't know if he was talking about single level cell or 2-bit or 3-bit multi-level cell (MLC) NAND though.

Apparently, as well as price, energy usage, read and write times, retention and endurance are all so much better than NAND that HP thinks the idea of memristors replacing NAND is not far-fetched at all.

It takes less than 10 nanoseconds to read a bit; endurance cycles go beyond 1012 and retention time is counted in years.

Williams held up the prospect of layering memristor memory on top of processor cores, saying: "We could offer 2GB of memory per core on the processor chip. Putting non-volatile memory on top of the logic chip will buy us twenty years of Moore's Law." To which we say: "Wow!"

They're all memristors

Williams said that phase-change memory (PCM) and metal-oxide resistive RAM are both types of memristor, meaning magneto-resistive RAM which IBM and Crocus Technology are working on, is a memristor variant.

That implies that Unity Semiconductor's CMOXe technology is also part of this wider overall memristor technology push. So too is Samsung's STT-RAM. Williams said Samsung has a larger lab working on its resistive RAM technology than HP does.

Gone in a flash

If non-volatile resistive RAM, in the shape of HP/Hynix memristor devices, is going to hit the flash market by the mid-point of 2013, then what does that say about the future of NAND-based solid state drives (SSDs) and PCIe flash cards?

At present we are undergoing a transition to 2X nanometre NAND process chips and 2-bit MLC is becoming mainstream.

If memristor technology is as good as HP is saying, then perhaps we won't see sub-20nm NAND or 3-bit MLC NAND at all. Particularly as both NAND speed and endurance worsen as we move to sub-20nm process dies and to 3-bit MLC.

Suddenly flash looks vulnerable, but that will only be the case if HP is right. Is it? Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets please! ®

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