The ReRAM Market Opportunity
Increasing Demand for Semiconductor Memory
By 2025, it’s estimated that the world will have generated more than 180 zettabytes (180 trillion gigabytes) of data, driven by dramatic increases in both consumer and business data. What is all this data? According to EarthWeb, people share more than 8,000 photos per second on SnapChat, view about 4 billion videos per day on Facebook, and watch one billion hours of YouTube every day. Now add to that the data generated every minute on Zoom, Twitter, Instagram, and so on. Small amounts of data add up too. As buildings and cities get smarter, sensors are everywhere – on every streetlight, traffic light, parking meter, elevator and air conditioner. This IoT data is also increasingly generated by pieces of industrial equipment, shipping crates, agricultural assets, and so on. Data is everywhere and it’s growing rapidly.
Whether it’s the data generated inside enterprises, created at the edge, or collected in the cloud, semiconductor memory technologies are at the heart of the devices collecting, processing and storing data. Volatile and Non-Volatile Memory (NVM) technologies play critical roles in data processing and information storage in nearly every electronic product, and demand continues to grow as our world becomes increasingly connected.
The Need for Memory Innovation
For the last several decades, flash memory technology has addressed the need for NVM in electronic devices, dominating the industry. The overall market size for flash memory is currently estimated at over 67 billion USD, and it is rapidly growing.
However, with expanding storage requirements, ever-increasing data traveling across global networks, and the emergence of new applications including Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), the industry needs much faster, lower power, more reliable and cost-effective NVM. Flash cannot continue to scale to meet all these needs.
New Applications Need New NVM
Flash memory, the incumbent NVM technology, has several cost, scalability and complexity limitations when it comes to being embedded in next-generation Systems-on-Chips (SoCs) for applications like AI, which are being manufactured in the smallest process geometries.
In addition, flash read/write operations are generally done through accessing large blocks (versus bits), creating challenges for the embedded system architecture. It also negatively affects performance and power consumption and adds complexity to the flash controller logic.
The nature of flash is also a challenge for analog chips, often leading device engineers to make compromises that can lead to decreased performance and higher cost. In addition, flash has limited tolerance to radiation and electromagnetic fields, making it a mismatch for many medical and industrial applications. Finally, flash’s relatively high-power consumption can shorten a product’s battery life – a clear problem in areas such as battery operated and energy harvesting IoT devices.
All these issues mean a new type of NVM is needed. Resistive Random-Access Memory (ReRAM or RRAM) technology overcomes the limitations of flash by enabling much faster and lower-power memories that are much easier to manufacture.
Weebit ReRAM – Ideal Next Generation NVM
Weebit ReRAM is manufactured using CMOS compatible process materials – avoiding any contamination concerns or the usage of rare earth materials. It requires only two additional masks in the manufacturing process (approximately 5% additional wafer cost) – versus more than 10 needed for some other NVM solutions, including flash. It also requires very few additional steps and can be manufactured using standard tools and equipment with various deposition techniques.
Because it is easy to integrate, cost-effective and flexible, manufacturers can reach high yields relatively quickly with minimal investment. In addition, Weebit ReRAM can be embedded into a wide range of designs – scalable down to the smallest geometries – or used where flash cells are not easy or cost-effective to embed. Finally, ReRAM is bit-addressable, reducing the complexity of the memory controller and providing system architects with maximum flexibility.
Weebit ReRAM is the perfect fit for next-generation SoCs, representing the most cost-effective and highest performance emerging embedded NVM technology.
Embedded and Discrete NVM Opportunities
Weebit ReRAM technology is ideal for both embedded memory and discrete (stand-alone) memory chips. In the short term, we are focused on the embedded applications market, delivering solutions to semiconductor customers and fabs who embed our IP into their SoCs.
In the longer term, our goal is to expand beyond embedded applications into the broad market for discrete components. Discrete NVM broadly encompasses NOR Flash and NAND Flash, with growing opportunities in Storage-Class Memory (SCM).
With our development partner CEA-Leti, we are developing an advanced solution for the discrete memory chip market which will initially replace NOR Flash memory devices and later expand to address the broader discrete memory market as it develops.
New to the world of ReRAM technology?
Check out our Guide to ReRAM