Good Old America
Great to see a new memory technology emerge. This is the sort of stuff which used to make the semiconductor industry constantly exciting and, true to the tradition of new US semiconductor technologies, the new CMOx memory technology, pioneered by Unity Semiconductor, has come from an American venture capital-backed start-up company.
Every major technological innovation in the semiconductor industry has come from America. When it comes to big new innovative breakthroughs – the transistor, the IC, semiconductor memory, the microprocessor, programmable logic – all have come from the Americans.
The only one that didn’t come from America was flash memory, which was invented by Toshiba. Even then it was an American company, Intel, which was the first company to get a commercial flash memory to market with its 28F256.
Unity says it’s about to tape out a 64Gbit memory. It says it will be in production in two years time. It says CMOx will scale to 20nm. It says its technology delivers a density 4X that of NAND and up to 10X faster.
It’s not the most stunning aspiration ever seen in the memory business. When Intel was formed to pursue semiconductor memory its technology aimed to bring the cost of memory down 100X.
But the key advantage of CMOx may be the claim that it can scale to 20nm. No one seems to think NAND will scale to 20nm.
So good old America. It may have turned out another fundamental breakthrough in semiconductor technology and done it via the traditional US route of the VC-backed start-up.
TOMORROW MORNING: The 2005 Semiconductor Top Ten.
By 2005 Europe was at its high-water mark of success in the semiconductor industry with three companies in the top ten. Europe’s success came from its expertise in SOC, helped by pan-European R&D programmes like MEDEA, which emhasised the development of platforms.