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Unity: 'We'll make a terabit chip by 2014'

Semiconductor firm touts NAND flash successor

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Unity Semiconductor thinks its CMOx technology can be the silver bullet the storage industry needs, succeeding NAND with next-generation memory combining DRAM speed and flash non-volatility – with Micron's help.

EEtimes reports that Unity COO and co-founder Christophe Chevallier will present a CMOx (Complementary Metal Oxide) paper at a Tokyo CEATEC symposium on October 7.

CMOx is a resistance-change memory and Unity has a roadmap, with Micron fabricating the chips, to deliver a terabit cross-point array chip in 2014, and a four-terabit model in 2018. The cells will be 2-bit. There is a whitepaper [PDF] describing the concept.

It is just one of several post-NAND technology bets, including STT-RAM, phase-change memory, IBM racetrack memory and HP's Memristor.

Unity has been developing its CMOXe technology since 2003. It says that it involves "novel physics that enables small geometry, multi‐layer cross‐point memory arrays with higher density, faster performance, lower manufacturing costs, and greater data reliability". For novel, read "difficult."

There was a management team change at the beginning of 2011 with David Eggleston becoming CEO and Dr Louis Parrillo, ex-Spansion, becoming chief technology officer. Darrell Rinerson, co-founder and former CEO, joined the board. The development program was announced two days after that reshuffle took place.

The skinny is that Micron put rescue money into CMOx at this time, after Unity came near to running out of cash following a series C round of funding in 2009, which garnered $22 million and raised the total funding to $75 million. At that time it was going to produce a 64Gbit chip in 2011. This has not been seen.

Interestingly the C round [PDF] featured three existing venture capital investors plus a "major hard disk drive manufacturer". We don't know which one for sure, but if things do go to plan, that investment was either made by or will be inherited by Seagate or Western Digital.

Unity aims to license CMOx to memory fab operators and suppliers, such as, we suppose, a "major hard disk drive manufacturer". ®

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