Wednesday, August 09, 2017
Everspin announced it is sampling a Gbit MRAM chip and will be in production this year with 1-2 Gbyte cards based on its 256 Mbit chip. The news at the Flash Memory Summit here marks a small but significant advance for a growing collection of persistent memories at an event focused on the still rising market for mainstream NAND.
Everspin hopes its products find sockets replacing DRAM in solid state drives and flash-storage arrays as a non-volatile buffer and write cache. The cards will deliver up to seven million I/O operations/second and 2 microsecond latencies using special Windows and Linux drivers Everspin is releasing as open source.
At least one other company will provide a second source for Everspin’s cards. The company has stated it has one pilot customer for the chips that it hopes will take them to production within a year.
Intel became the first to launch a new memory chip into mainstream storage markets with its 3DXP now shipping in SSDs. Western Digital has promised resistive RAMs before 2020, and Everspin gained an MRAM competitor late last year in Spin Transfer Technologies, which says it will sample a Gbit-class product next year.
“In the future, all memory will be persistent — it may be 5-7 years from now or sooner, but it’s an expectation that everything is live and backed up and the highest performing memories with the highest capacities will win,” said Patrick Patla, senior vice president of marketing for Everspin.
Each new memory type is likely to stake out its own market position, but so far MRAM is tracking closest to DRAM performance, said Joe O’Hare, Everspin’s director of marketing. “The new [interface] standards consortiums will solidify the opportunity because they allow you to be agnostic in persistent memories and deal with their variable latencies,” he said.
Everspin is showing a prototype card for the GenZ interface at the event, although the link is not expected to see use in commercial products for about two years. Meanwhile it also supports IBM’s OpenCAPI which will be on IBM’s Power9 systems later this year.
Everspin’s Gbit chip uses a DDR4 interface and is made in Globalfoundries’ 28nm process. The foundry licensed the technology to provide an embedded MRAM option to customers of its 22nm FD-SOI process, probably staring next year.
The cards use a 40nm 256M chip. They ride the PCIe Gen 3 bus, supporting the NVMe interface and will be available at the end of the year as U.2 or half-height, half-length PCIe cards with prices starting at $2,200.
To date, Everspin has shipped more than 70 million units, mainly 130nm embedded memories for various enterprise storage, industrial and other markets.
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