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US and Japanese chip firms team up on MRAM project

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A group of over 20 Japanese and US chip companies are joining forces to develop a way to mass produce new low power memory chips that operate ten times faster than DRAM.

Firms including Micron Technology – the world’s number two DRAM producer – Renesas, Hitachi and Tokyo Electron will send experts to Tohoku university to begin the project in February 2014, according to Nikkei.

Magnetoresistive random access memory (MRAM) has up until now has been overshadowed by DRAM and flash, despite being under development for decades.

Unlike DRAM it uses magnetic charges rather than electric charge to store data and it will retain data even when the power is turned off.

MRAM uses only one-third the power and offers ten times the writing speed and ten times the capacity of DRAM, making a compelling case for its use in smartphones and tablets, according to the Japanese newswire.

This is not the only project looking to accelerate the development of MRAM.

Toshiba and SK Hynix are also working on the memory chip technology and Samsung has an active Global MRAM Innovation initiative underway.

Earlier this year, Freescale spin-out Everspin announced it was the first manufacturer to reach the milestone of 10 million shipped MRAM chips.

The firm claims it is the only biz thus far to sell MRAM commercially, offering 4Mbit and 16Mbit MRAM chips to the likes of Airbus and Siemens. ®

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