Magnetic RAM is a match for flash

Magnetic RAM is a match for flash
Steve Bush IMEC, the Belgian research organisation, has demonstrated a competitor to flash memory based on magnetic quantum effects. Called magnetic RAM (MRAM), it is non-volatile random-access memory technology. “We have made a demonstrator and its performance matches simulation results. This gives us confidence to predict that MRAM can match the density of flash while beating it on speed and lifetime,” said Jo de Boeck of IMEC. The memory cells use ‘spin-valves’, similar to the structures used in the latest generation of hard disk drive read heads. The cells are made in a structure consisting of two thin film magnetic layers separated by a non-magnetic insulating layer. Interaction between the magnetic layers means that they can exist in one of two states, set by locally applied fields. The magnetic field in the insulator controls the number of conductors that tunnel through it – causing it to adopt one of two conductivities. Fabricating a diode in series with each magnetic cell has allowed the IMEC team to connect them together in a DRAM-like array. The demonstrator has 3 x 3 cells on a GaAs substrate. The next step is to transfer this to silicon.


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