Weebit Nano and SiEn to jointly investigate non-volatile memory opportunities

Weebit Nano SiEn ASX WBT memory technology
Weebit Nano has signed a letter of intent with Chinese semiconductor company SiEn.

Semiconductor company Weebit Nano (ASX: WBT) has signed a letter of intent with Chinese company SiEn (QingDao) Integrated Circuits to jointly investigate ways in which Weebit’s technology can be used in SiEn’s products.

Weebit said its ReRAM technology could enhance SiEn’s competitive position by adding “significant non-volatile memory capability” to products manufactured by SiEn and further validate the communal integrated device manufacturer (CIDM) model first pioneered by SiEn.

SiEn was established by Dr Richard Chang, an engineer with decades of experience and now colloquially known as the “father of the Chinese semiconductor” who developed a manufacturing model that aggregates companies with similar target markets, technologies, production lines and customers to share common manufacturing technology production goals.

Weebit’s chief executive officer Coby Hanoch described Dr Chang as an “industry luminary” with his support serving as a “great vote of confidence” in Weebit’s technology.

“Today there are dozens of fabs under construction in China, but SiEn’s fab is the only one taking the CIDM approach given Richard’s vast experience and knowledge of the market, allowing SiEn to bring together the design and fabrication processes, so instead of working with two separate entities, we can just focus on SiEn,” said Mr Hanoch.

“SiEn will finish constructing two fabs of 200mm and 300mm wafers this year, and we believe Weebit’s technology can be a perfect fit into our offering,” said Dr Chang.

“Our production line will be based on STMicroelectronic technology, similar to that used by Leti, making the technology transfer simpler, and is expected to bring forward the time required to bring products to market,” he added.

Betting on ReRAM

A vast amount of information is being stored on electronic devices, primarily using flash memory technology, but given the evolution of device design, flash is not managing to progress in the embedded market where memory is combined with processors and other elements on the same chip and is therefore not a valid solution for designs below 28nm.

That’s the verdict from Weebit and a growing cast of semiconductor manufacturers that claim memory must become smaller and more energy-efficient in order to deliver on requirements set by end-users.

According to Weebit, the market needs a new non-volatile memory technology that can provide a solution “for the smaller process geometries” and is suggesting its own variant of resistive random-access-memory (ReRAM).

ReRAM is a type of non-volatile random-access memory that works by changing the resistance across a dielectric solid-state material rather than directly storing charge.

The company says ReRAM is a thousand times faster and lower power than flash. Moreover, unlike other emerging memory technologies, and unlike other ReRAM implementations, Weebit claims its ReRAM memory is made from the most common material in the semiconductor industry – Silicon Oxide (SiOx).

The material is simple to manufacture and scale into mass production while attaining higher yields and performance.

Weebit Nano shares were up 4% to $0.45 before midday.

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