Nantero Going For Gbit CNT Memories.

Nantero, the Boston carbon nanotube IC specialist, has raised another $31.5 million. “We were targeting $15 million and ended with more than double,” Nantero Co-Founder and CEO Greg Schmergel tells me.

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.”



  1. It’s done very well on a total of $78m funding, Fred. As it’s in the IP business model maybe it doesn’t need more. ARM only had £1.5m. But ARM had revenues much earlier! If Nantero chooses licensees who are big enough and ugly enough they’ll perform the job of warding off lawyers trying to kill the technology..

  2. 15 years, goodness – a long haul indeed. Amazing they survived the course against the odds, but here we are and they have a new injection of cash which should take them forward. If it works out, and I hope it does, they’ll no doubt need another injection of cash to fight off the existing players in the market who will probably resort to lawyer and patent challenges to try and kill off the technology. I really, really hope not but…

  3. It’s been a long old haul for them Fred – 15 years and still without a product – but if they can crack it then the electronics industry will benefit massively. As you say, good luck to them.

  4. Embedded Flash can be painfully slow, 20 to 25ns access time typically, so a much faster and denser option would make a big difference to MCU design. Raising 31.5 million is good but it does seem a tad small in this business given the multi billion scale of the competition out there. Have to wish them luck though…

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