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SK Hynix licenses IBM Phase Change RAM technology

Posted on Wednesday, June 13 2012 @ 20:09:08 CEST by

SK Hynix announced a collaboration with IBM to jointly develop Phase Change RAM (PCRAM) technology that will be manufactured and sold by SK Hynix. PCRAM is a new type of non-volatile random access memory that promises 100 fold the performance of today's NAND, while enhancing durability by 1,000 fold, and operating at low power like DRAM.
SK Hynix Inc. (or ‘SK Hynix’, www.skhynix.com) today announced a joint development agreement and a technology license agreement with IBM for the development of Phase Change Random Access Memory (or ‘PCRAM’) technology.

IBM brings years of research experience in phase change memory technology, as well as profound know-how in developing multi-level cell (MLC) technology. Last June, IBM researchers demonstrated a reliable multi-bit, phase-change memory technology that would allow computers and servers to boot instantaneously and significantly enhance the overall performance of IT systems. Combining IBM’s expertise in such disciplines with SK Hynix’s cutting-edge manufacturing process optimization and cost competitiveness will help to accelerate the commercialization of PCRAM technology.

Since the inception of PCRAM development in 2007, SK Hynix continued to build its foundation, and it successfully developed 40nm class 1Gb (Gigabit) PCRAM along the way. With today’s agreement, SK Hynix and IBM will collaborate on developing PCRAM products that will be manufactured by SK Hynix.

“By joining forces and making the best use of technological advantages and resources both companies offer in material, process, design and other areas through joint development and technology license agreements, we now have pushed the commercialization of PCRAM forward even further.” said Sung Joo Hong, Senior Vice President and Head of SK Hynix R&D Division.

"Phase-change memory technology has the potential to enable a new class of low-cost, high-performance memory technologies for consumer devices, cloud computing, data storage and other enterprise applications," said T.C. Chen, IBM Fellow and vice president of Science & Technology for IBM Research. "Working with SK Hynix will speed the development and production of PCRAM devices based on our breakthrough multi-bit, phase-change memory technology.”

PCRAM is a type of non-volatile random-access memory that exploits the property of resistance in crystalline and amorphous states to store data. The state of resistance can remain intact even in a condition with no power. PCRAM’s performance is expected to surpass that of today’s NAND Flash by 100 fold while enhancing durability by 1,000 fold, and PCRAM will operate with low power like DRAM. With relatively simpler structure compared to other memory products, PCRAM will drive the production cost down considerably.

PCRAM may be able to reshape the landscape of the memory industry by introducing storage-class memory (or ‘SCM’), a promising next generation memory class, designed to boost performance and reduce power consumption for enterprise servers. PCRAM will bridge a gap between the current DRAM and SSD (or ‘Solid State Drive’) as it takes the role of a buffer memory.

According to a market researcher Gartner, the memory opportunity for servers, which includes DRAM and SSD, will expand from US$8 billion in 2012 to US$16 billion in 2016, and the SCM opportunity, driven by PCRAM demands from leading server makers, will be worth US$1.4 billion and continue to grow for years.

“Alongside STT-MRAM and ReRAM currently under joint development with Toshiba and HP respectively, PCRAM will enrich our portfolio of the next generation memory technologies. SK Hynix will continue to endeavor to seek possible partnerships that will elevate our competence in the ever evolving semiconductor industry.” said Hyun Jong Song, Senior Vice President, Head of Future Strategy Division.



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