Toshiba, Working on MRAM Smartphone Processors

Toshiba Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan

Toshiba Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan | Wikipedia

It was reported that Toshiba has developed a low-power, high-speed version of MRAM memory or Magnetoresistive Random Access Memory. The component is said to cut power consumption in mobile CPUs by two-thirds.

Last Monday, the company said that the MRAM can be used in smartphones’ mobile processors as cache memory. It replaces the SRAM that is widely used today. As stated by Toshiba spokesman Atushi Ido:

Recently, the amount of SRAM used in mobile application processors has been increasing, and this has increased the power usage. This research is focus on cutting the power consumption, while increasing speed, as opposed to increasing amount of memory.

MRAM: A Possible Replacement for DRAM Memory

Device makers are now shifting their focus on lowering power consumption, where heat and battery life are major concern for consumers. Used for memory caches, MRAM will be on the order of several megabytes for storage. Toshiba and other companies are developing the new technology at a higher storage capacity as a possible flash and DRAM replacement.

MRAM uses magnetic storage to track its bits compared to the current RAM technologies that uses electric charges. The new technology is non-volatile, which means that it can retain its data even without power. However, it usually requires more current to operate in high speeds.

In relation to this, Toshiba revealed that their research uses spin-torque technology. It is a form of technology wherein the spin of electrons is used to set the orientation of its magnetic bits. As a result, it lowers that charge required for data writes. Moreover, the MRAM chips use elements that are smaller than 30 nanometers.

On the other hand, Everspin announced last month that they’ve shipped the world’s first spin-torque MRAM chip as a DRAM replacement. The company even stated that the new chips serve as a buffer memory in solid-state drives, as well as a fast-access memory in data centers.

Announcement and Release

As for its availability, Ido said that there is no time frame yet as to when the MRAM memory cache will be available in the market. However, it was reported that they are working with Hynix to MRAM for next-generation memory products. The company added that they will promote products, which combine several memory technologies such as MRAM and NAND flash.

Moreover, Toshiba will present their MRAM research at the IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting that will be held in San Francisco this week. The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers is an organization that promotes research on mostly electrical engineering topics.

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