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Panasonic first with mass-produced ReRAM computer

Panasonic first with mass-produced ReRAM computer

Panasonic's latest eight-bit microcomputer for embedded applications is the world's first example of ReRAM technology reaching mass production.

Panasonic has announced that it has become the first company to begin mass production of computing devices featuring non-volatile ReRAM components.

One of several technologies claimed to represent the future of computing, ReRAM - Resistive, or Resistance, Random Access Memory - is a high-speed non-volatile storage medium which uses resistance, rather than voltage or magnetism, to store data. The result is a flash-like memory which offers performance near to that of traditional Dynamic RAM (DRAM) components - blurring the lines between mass storage and RAM, protecting data in the event of a power outage, and reducing the power required by a memory module significantly.

Previous efforts in the commercialisation of ReRAM - including a prototype module from Elpida and a hybrid SSD offering eleven-fold speed improvements - have been hampered by the complexity of its manufacture. It wasn't until May last year that researchers were able to produce a cheap room-temperature ReRAM device using simple and affordable manufacturing methods.

Now, Panasonic is taking ReRAM into the mass market with the news that it has become the first company to begin mass production of a product based around the technology. Dubbed the MN101LR series, the microcomputers are being produced from August at a rate of a million units per month using the company's newly-developed 0.18┬Ám ReRAM modules.

Before you get too excited, however, it's worth checking the specifications of the MN101LR devices. Designed for embedded use, the systems are eight-bit microcomputers running at 10MHz with just a few kilobytes of ReRAM available to the user. The target market, Panasonic explains, is low-complexity systems such as battery-powered healthcare products, security systems, automotive and sensor devices.

Even in this market segment, ReRAM promises much: compared to the flash-based MN101E microcomputer it replaces, the new devices boast a 50 per cent reduction in power draw and a ten-fold boost in longevity while also increasing the throughput capabilities of the processor.

Clearly, while there's quite some way to go before ReRAM scales up to threaten traditional flash or DRAM in desktop or laptop computers, the technology is already proving itself worth of the effort researchers have put in thus far.

6 Comments

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MrGumby 31st July 2013, 16:21 Quote
Always enjoy a good old tech story while at work.
Xir 31st July 2013, 16:35 Quote
Quote:
including a prototype module from Elipda
Sure you don't mean Elpida?
Narishma 31st July 2013, 16:52 Quote
Why are they calling them microcomputers instead of microcontrollers like everybody else?
Gareth Halfacree 31st July 2013, 21:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xir
Sure you don't mean Elpida?
Fixed, ta!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Narishma
Why are they calling them microcomputers instead of microcontrollers like everybody else?
Because what they've built is a microcomputer rather than a microcontroller: in particular, it has a block of 'mass' storage (the ReRAM) not typical of a microcontroller, which does not usually include non-volatile storage beyond its program ROM. I say typically, 'cos some microcontrollers do have flash storage built in and you can easily argue that any given microcontroller is a microcomputer and frequently vice-versa - they're both ill-defined labels.
AiA 31st July 2013, 23:23 Quote
ReRam
MN101LR

I hope they come up with some better names, when products start coming out for the average consumer =p
ch424 1st August 2013, 00:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
Because what they've built is a microcomputer rather than a microcontroller: in particular, it has a block of 'mass' storage (the ReRAM) not typical of a microcontroller, which does not usually include non-volatile storage beyond its program ROM. I say typically, 'cos some microcontrollers do have flash storage built in and you can easily argue that any given microcontroller is a microcomputer and frequently vice-versa - they're both ill-defined labels.

I have to agree with Narishma - they definitely look like microcontrollers, based on the core specs and the I/O. I can't think of any recent micros that can't write to their own flash "ROM"! (and PIC12/PIC16 don't count :p )
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