Semiconductor developer Weebit Nano (ASX: WBT) is a step closer to developing the most avant-garde type of memory ever created, underpinned by continued miniaturisation and sporting advanced “must-have” features.
The Israeli company said it had demonstrated “commercially-viable data retention results at 40 nanometres,” the smallest and most energy-efficient type of ‘random-access memory’ currently being developed anywhere in the world.
The results published today indicate that Weebit Nano’s technology can maintain stored information for over 10 years, considered as a benchmark that’s above the requirement to be deemed “commercially viable”.
Data retention is considered one of the most crucial reliability parameters in the non-volatile memory market while “retention errors” are considered the most dominant failure mechanism, responsible for 99% of all failures amongst flash memory devices after one year of use.
According to Weebit, data retention poses significant reliability challenges amongst all emerging memory technologies – a challenge the company wants to help solve by introducing the next generation of more efficient devices.
The company said that it is currently on track to complete its “process optimisation phase” by the end of Q1 2019 and will continue its development work in earnest.
The data retention test used to substantiate Weebit’s claims was conducted in CEA/Leti testing facilities by Weebit engineers under various testing conditions, including elevated temperatures at different durations to accelerate and age of the devices in order to replicate 10 years’ operation.
Data analysis and lifetime prediction calculations using industry standard metrics have shown that Weebit’s ReRAM SiOx arrays “did not present any significant degradation with information being detected with no corruption after 10 years’ field operation,” the company stated.
In addition, Weebit’s 40-nanometre devices endured an elevated temperature of 260 Celsius for a period of time that “well exceeds the requirements of soldering semiconductor components onto a printed circuit board (PCB).”
Weebit’s work is aimed at reducing the size of semiconductors which the company has done consistently over the past few years, having developed an array at 300 nanometres in 2016-17 and now developing a 40-nanometre version in 2018.
According to its CEO Coby Hanoch, Weebit will soon move into its next phase of development to create a 28-nanometre array in the foreseeable future.
The smaller the better
A nanometre is one billionth of a meter, with miniaturised semiconductors expected to deliver unprecedented benefits for end-users. The smaller-scale architecture is widely used for building tiny, complex, and atomic scale computing and electronic components – specifically in nanotechnology.
One of the other key features used by developers such as Weebit is silicon oxide (SiOx) – currently the most commonly used material for producing semiconductor devices.
Resistive random-access memory (ReRAM) is a type of non-volatile (NV) random-access memory that works by changing the resistance across a dielectric solid-state material rather than directly storing charge.
“These results are essential to our productisation plans, as many markets require 10 years of retention as a ‘must-have’ feature,” said Coby Hanoch, CEO of Weebit Nano.
“We are currently in the process optimisation phase whereby we are making improvements to additional parameters such as endurance, yield and manufacturability. This is an important step as we ready our technology for the productisation stage. Our improvement testing is also providing us with significant know-how, which we will use in the next phase of scaling down to 28nm,” said Mr Hanoch.