MEMORY MAKERS Hynix and Toshiba have agreed to work on magnetoresistive random access memory (MRAM) technology, which is seen as the successor to dynamic random access memory (DRAM).
Both Hynix and Toshiba said they will be working on a subset of MRAM known as spin-transfer torque magnetoresistance random access memory, which when developed would be produced in a joint venture between the two firms. Hynix also announced that the two companies have extended their patent cross-licensing and product supply agreements.
Since its emergence in the mid 1990s, MRAM has been widely seen as the next generation non-volatile memory technology and the successor to DRAM. However DRAM is still significantly cheaper to make and even with major electronics firms ploughing tens of millions into research, MRAM is still very much a fringe memory technology.
Although MRAM has been on the drawing board for the best part of two decades, Toshiba still has faith in the technology and said, "Toshiba recognizes MRAM as an important next-generation memory technology with the potential to sustain future growth in its semiconductor business. Hynix has a cutting-edge memory technology, most notably in manufacturing process optimization and cost competitiveness."
Curiously Hynix decided to highlight the risks of developing new technology, saying, "Developing a new technology is always prone to risk. One reason for merging the necessary resources and expertise from Hynix and Toshiba is to minimize risk and to accelerate the pace of MRAM commercialization."
Kiyoshi Kobayashi, corporate SVP of Toshiba and president and CEO of Toshiba Semiconductor and Storage Products Company said that the firm would "strongly promote" MRAM, NAND and hard drives, and talked up the deal with Hynix. Oh Chul Kwon, Hynix CEO was more specific on the possible uses of MRAM, saying that the technology is a "perfect fit" for high-end smartphones.
Given the glacial pace of MRAM development it was no surprise that neither Hynix nor Toshiba mentioned anything about when these revolutionary memory chips will end up in devices. µ