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Chinese Academy of Sciences unveils MRAM tech

Posted: 13 Mar 2007     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MRAM  MRAM devices  MRAM technology  flash memory  memory IC 

A research team led by Professor Han Xiufeng from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) Institute of Physics has developed a novel type of magnetoresistive RAM (MRAM), according to the Academy.

The MRAM consists of arrays of magnetic memory cells in which the information is stored as the magnetisation direction of tiny ferromagnetic elements.

In a conventional MRAM design scheme, writing these elements uses two crossed pulse currents to produce a synthesised magnetic field to reverse selected magnetic elements, and the read process relies on the tunnelling magnetoresistive ratio.

Instead of using this traditional MRAM design, the CAS researchers have used nanometer-scale ring-shaped magnetic tunnel junctions (NR-MTJs), to contain the 1s or 0s—a return to magnetic-core memory formats of 1960s replicated on the nanoscale. The inner- and outer diameter of the memory rings is around 50-100nm, respectively. The memory cell employs positive and negative pulsed currents to drive the rotation of magnetic moment on a bit plane, CAS said in a statement.

The research team claimed its design could reduce MRAM energy consumption and memory cell size compared with existing designs; two challenges facing MRAM development. About 500-650µA of current is needed for a device cell to perform a write operation, and 10-20µA current is used to read the cell, CAS said. After further improvement, it is expected to decrease the writing current to the range of 100-200µA.

The statement did not provide information on the manufacturing process used to produce the MRAM or whether single MRAM cells or memory arrays had been produced or what size of memory array.

The work was conducted between April 2002 and September 2006 with the support of the Chinese National Basic Research Program (973 Program), the National Natural Science Foundation of China, and the CAS Knowledge Innovation Program.

- Peter Clarke
EE Times Europe




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