After a three month courtship, Cypress Semiconductor has finally married its ferroelectric intended, Ramtron.
But Ramtron exacted a price for its favours which was a third more than the original proposal back in June – $3.10 a share instead of the original $2.68 offer.
$3.10 a share values Ramtron at $110m.
Ramtron based in Colorado Springs, was founded in 1984 to pursue ferro-electric RAM (FRAM) development. The technology has remained niche because it cannot achieve the density of traditional RAM technology.
11 years ago, Ramtron was on the brink of success. In July 2001 a technological breakthrough gave FRAM the chance to become the ideal memory – fast to read, fast to write, non-volatile, durable and dense.
In July 2001, Ramtron’s basic ferroelectric memory cell was reduced from two transistors plus two capacitors down to one transistor and one capacitor – the same basic cell as DRAM.
Of course DRAM cells make further space savings by stacking transistors or by burying the capacitors in trenches.
Ramtron looked for a way to stack. So did Infineon, STMicroelectronics and Toshiba.
In 2001, Infineon actually announced it would have 8Mbit FRAM in Q3 2001, customer samples of 32Mbit FRAMs in 2002, and production of 64/128Mbit FRAMs in 2003.
In 2001, the highest selling, top density DRAMs were16Mbit and 64Mbits with the 64Mbit unit volume overtaking the 16Mbit unit volume for the first time during 2001.
So those announced densities for FRAM from Infineon would have got FRAM pretty close to DRAM density.
It didn’t happen. FRAM trudged on as a niche market product in low density, low power, radiation resistant applications.
And now Ramtron is no more.