Monday, November 16, 2009

"CHIPS: MRAMs go serial in smart meters"

Magnetic solid-state memories have been sought for over a decade for their nonvolatility and 20 year lifespans, but only recently have they become commercially successful. They are still 1000-times smaller than rivals like flash, but their combination of high-speed and longevity make them ideal for high-reliability applications. Look for MRAMs to be incorporated into applications like smart meters over the next few years. R.C.J.

Serial magnetoresistive random-access memory (MRAM) could find wider use in the emerging smart meter market. Everspin Technologies Inc. (Chandler, Ariz.), the spinoff of Freescale Semiconductor Inc., said its new serial peripheral interface also could make its MRAMs popular in industrial control, automotive and printer applications. Other memory technologies, such as flash, EEPROM and FRAM, offer nonvolatility, but Everspin claims MRAM offers a higher degree of security due to its simpler programming method, which works like fast SRAM. Other nonvolatile memory technologies, Everspin claims, require extra steps to insure that data is not lost if power is interrupted during read/write cycles. MRAMs are already used for critical program and data storage requirements in extreme environments. Everspin recently won a contract from Airbus to supply 4- and 16-Mbit MRAMs for the flight control computer on the next-generation Airbus A350.