bit-tech.net

Rambus buys Unity in CMOx storage gamble

Rambus buys Unity in CMOx storage gamble

Unity's CMOx technology boasts a simplified design and, the company claims, improved performance over traditional NAND flash.

Patent portfolio house Rambus has announced that it has acquired the privately-held Unity Semiconductor lock, stock and barrel for $35 million in cash. The reason: a NAND flash replacement technology dubbed CMOx.

'At Rambus, we are creating disruptive technologies to enable future electronics products,' claimed Sharon Holt, the general manager for semiconductors at Rambus. 'With the addition of Unity, we can develop non-volatile memory solutions that will advance semiconductor scaling beyond the limits of today's NAND technology. This will enable new memory architectures that help meet ever-increasing consumer demands.'

The solution to which Holt refers is CMOx, an alternative to NAND first developed by Unity nine years ago. Designed to provide increased scalability over traditional NAND flash memory, CMOx cells promise higher data densities, faster performance, lowered manufacturing costs and improved reliability.

A CMOx cell is a two-layer structure comprised of a conductive metal oxide and a second insulating metal oxide. Both layers have crystal structures designed to allow them to selectively trap and release oxygen ions. When a cell is blank, the oxygen ions live in the conductive layer; when programmed, they move to the insulating layer.

Unity claims that CMOx prototypes have been tested to tens of thousands of write-erase cycles with no loss of performance, In addition, it claims that cell current can be customised in order to create multi-level architectures equivalent to today's MLC-based NAND flash.

Finally, CMOx is claimed to be significantly simpler to produce and implement compared to NAND flash. Where NAND has three terminals - source, drain and gate - CMOx has just two electrodes.

Although the technology has yet to make it to market, it's already turning heads. Towards the end of last year company co-founder and chief operating officer Christophe Chevallier presented a paper on CMOx to the CEATEC Silicon Storage Symposium in Tokyo. As a result of his convincing performance, memory giant Micron signed a deal to jointly develop commercialised versions of CMOx cells.

The deal with Rambus won't see that partnership change, Unity claims. 'Rambus provides our team the perfect environment to continue the technology development of non-volatile memory cells and architectures,' explained David Eggleston, Unity's president and chief executive. 'Our comprehensive set of design, process and device solutions will complement Rambus' existing strong technology portfolio and system capabilities.'

Rambus, for its part, gains a portfolio of some 147 patents. Should CMOx prove to be the scalable successor to NAND flash which Unity clearly believes it is, those will be worth their weight in licensing fees.

Do you think Rambus has made a sound investment, or does an oxygen-based storage system sound too wacky to ever make it into mainstream devices? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

9 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Tulatin 7th February 2012, 15:17 Quote
Rambus hasn't learned their lesson from the last time they tried to enstate themselves as a memory standard, huh?
dunx 7th February 2012, 15:33 Quote
Para 4, it's cell no sell !
Gareth Halfacree 7th February 2012, 15:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by dunx
Para 4, it's cell no sell !
Whoops. Fixed, ta. In my defence, that was the second time I'd typed that paragraph after crashing my system with a TI Launchpad dev board...
B1GBUD 7th February 2012, 15:35 Quote
I had my fingers burnt by Rambus back in the day (£277 for 512MB), I don't think I fancy getting them burnt again..... I'll be a late adopter once it is proven
dunx 7th February 2012, 15:37 Quote
feel free to edit me out then !
azazel1024 7th February 2012, 15:43 Quote
No, Rambus just killed a possibly promising technology. Who in their right mind wants to have anything to do with anything Rambus related? Burn me once shame on you, burn me twice shame on me.
K404 7th February 2012, 15:55 Quote
I wish rambus would buy a bunker full of unstable explosives and inspect their purchase piece by piece by hand


http://www.destructoid.com/elephant//ul/25168-550x-this%20is%20a%20fire.jpeg
ssj12 8th February 2012, 07:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by azazel1024
No, Rambus just killed a possibly promising technology. Who in their right mind wants to have anything to do with anything Rambus related? Burn me once shame on you, burn me twice shame on me.

Sony.
wbr 15th February 2012, 10:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by azazel1024
No, Rambus just killed a possibly promising technology. Who in their right mind wants to have anything to do with anything Rambus related? Burn me once shame on you, burn me twice shame on me.

NVIDIA.
Log in

You are not logged in, please login with your forum account below. If you don't already have an account please register to start contributing.



Discuss in the forums