Semiconductor developer 4DS Memory (ASX: 4DS) has completed analysis of the fourth iteration of 300mm wafers (otherwise known as Lot 4) it first obtained back in August and September of this year.
Completing the analysis process has enabled the company to “enhance” its understanding of the process conditions required to reproduce its memory on state-of-the-art production equipment.
4DS said it now fully understands the characteristics required to develop stand-alone storage class memory products.
Having improved its overall understanding of the technology, 4DS plans to develop a chip that it can market to high volume/high-density memory manufacturers.
Based on the results of Lot 4, 4DS and imec have agreed to integrate 4DS’s memory with imec’s megabit platform – hailed as a “significant milestone” with 4DS moving towards its goal of demonstrating a 1-megabit memory chip.
In addition to working with imec, 4DS also wields an additional development partner in the form of Western Digital, a US-based computer hard disk drive manufacturer and data storage company worth over US$16 billion.
Headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, imec is a world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies.
The organisation says it has distributed R&D groups at several Flemish universities in the Netherlands, Taiwan, the US and China, as well as setting up offices in India and Japan. In 2016, its revenue totalled €496 million (A$810 million).
According to 4DS, it has struck an agreement with imec to advance to the next development stage of integrating 4DS’ memory technology with imec’s megabit platform.
“Planning with respect to the integration has commenced, with work to be undertaken in Q4 of 2019,” the company said.
Imec’s platform is a proven CMOS megabit test vehicle fabricated on 300mm wafers on which the 4DS memory cells can be placed and function.
The deal is expected to enable 4DS to demonstrate the ability of its Interface Switching ReRAM technology for storage class memory, and therefore, validate its pre-existing market strategy of developing the next generation of memory.
“The joint decision with imec to now integrate our technology with its megabit platform represents a significant step forward and is a credit to the hard work and dedication of Guido [Arnout] and his technical team,” said Mr Jim Dorrian, chairman of 4DS.
According to 4DS, the integration will be undertaken in back-end-of-line (BEOL) processes, which is the latter stage of the chip manufacturing process. The integration progress includes continuous monitoring and analysis of speed, endurance, retention and yield.
Moreover, the integration will extend into 2020, beyond the existing term of the collaboration agreement between 4DS and imec.
To ensure the agreement extends beyond the contracted duration, 4DS is already in discussions with imec regarding the terms of an extension to the collaboration agreement with the company expecting to finalise terms “in the coming weeks”.
“Having fabricated and tested around one hundred 300mm wafers, over 4 iterations, we believe we know how to repeatedly produce our memory on state-of-the-art production equipment,” said Dr Guido Arnout, chief executive officer and managing director of 4DS.
“We are excited to be progressing to imec’s megabit platform and look forward to ultimately producing a megabit memory chip,” he said.
The news helped to push 4DS Memory shares to $0.084, up almost 24% in the morning trading session.