The money will be used principally for hiring engineers, says Schmergel. Among 20 recent hires, some are memory chip designers working on multi-gigabit memories.
Nantero’s business model is to be an IP licensor. It won’t make chips on its own account but will license IP and provide engineering support along the ARM model.
Asked if he would ever consider a fabless model, Schmergel replies: ‘We will stick with the IP model. Our customers prefer this strategy.”
Schmergel says that Nantero’s NRAM process has been installed in seven fabs worldwide at geometries from 20nm to 180nm.
“There are several companies planning to use it, people are doing commercial designs using Nantero technology,” says Schmergel.
One of the top three FPGA companies is designing a product using Nantero technology, says Schmergel.
The first target markets are for embedded NV memory and NV cache memory. Asked why
a systems company would specify Nantero technology for embedded memory, Schmergel replies:
“1. The combination of high speed and non-volatility reduces power.
2. It offers access to data at DRAM-type speeds
3. It has longer retention than flash – over ten years at 300°C or 1000 years at 85°C.”
However Schmergel says that “discrete chips are on the roadmap” and the next two markets to be targeted are ‘DRAM replacement memory’ and ‘high density non-volatile memory.’
Schmergel said that his engineers have started designing “multi-gigabit memories.”
Given an 18 month to two year design cycle that means we won’t see discrete memories this side of 2017.
“The goal is to make terabit memories,” says Schmergel, adding “the technology scales to 5nm. The CNTs are 2nm in diameter.”
Schmergel is feeling bullish: “The next phase of commercialisation,” he says, “will bring Nantero’s NRAM into volume production and change the course of electronics innovation for decades to come.”