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Micron is getting into a spin over STT-MRAM and getting into bed with a Singaporean research institute to develop it.

The background is that NAND is facing increasing problems over write endurance and write power as the process size reduces from 29-20nm to 19-10nm ... and then below 10nm. The problem is exacerbated as bits are added to the cells to make 2-bit and 3-bit multi-level cell flash.

NAND suppliers and technology developers are anticipating this by developing follow-on technologies centred around the idea of non-volatile, resistive RAM (RRAM), which is faster to access than flash and has a longer working life. There are a variety of ways of altering the resistance of a memory cell and Micron is entering into a joint research and development agreement with Singapore's A*STAR Data Storage Institute (DSI) to develop spin transfer torque magnetic random access memory or STT-MRAM.

A*STAR is the institute where boffins showed that adding salt to the bit-patterned media process could increase HDD density six-fold. The institute is going to get a reputation if it carries on like this.

One way of looking at this is to see a movement of a technology focus eastwards from Silicon Valley. Another way is to judge it is that Micron is backing another runner in the resistive RAM race:

Toshiba partners SanDisk in NAND foundries and Intel partners Micron in the IMTF foundry business just to make the interweaved technology threads more complex.

Micron is involved with STT-MRAM, CMOX and PCM – talk about backing multiple horses. No-one knows which technology will be the post-NAND winner so it's best to have more than one iron in the fire. ®

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