While memory is ubiquitous in our smart everything world, the memory technology landscape is changing quickly, with power becoming a key criterion. High-performance computing, cloud, and AI applications need to conserve dynamic power, while mobile, IoT, and edge applications are concerned about leakage current. Moving to smaller process technologies typically provides power, performance, and area (PPA) benefits; however, at smaller nodes, dynamic and leakage power scale differently. As a result, traditional memory technologies that have long been reliable for many designs, but consume significant amounts of energy, are proving inadequate for advanced-node SoCs supporting space-constrained designs such as those in the IoT and edge spaces.
For years, eFlash has been a conventional and prominent source of high-density, on-chip non-volatile memory (NVM). However, eFlash is simply too taxing on the system power budget for small, battery-powered applications. What’s more, the cost of enabling Flash technology beyond 28nm is quite high, limiting the ability of design teams to move to advanced technology nodes.
The semiconductor industry has continued researching different NVM solutions, like spin-transfer torque MRAM (STT-MRAM), phase-change RAM (PCRAM), and resistive RAM (RRAM). One particular type—eMRAM—has emerged as an ideal fit for the demands of many advanced-node SoCs.