Freescale demos 24-Mbit nanocrystal memory


Freescale Semiconductor Inc., the Austin, Texas-based Motorola spinoff, announced it has proven a 24-Mbit memory array based on silicon nanocrystals - a milestone toward developing a nanocrystal memory that could compete with embedded Flash memory in years ahead.

The device was proven at the company’s Austin technology and manufacturing center. It was made using full 90-nanometer processing technology. In 2003, the company demonstrated a 4-Mbit device that partially used 90-nanometer processing but relied on a circuit made using a 130-nanometer process.

Ko-Min Chang, Freescale’s manager of memory devices, said the memory array is significant because it goes a long way toward proving the reliability of such a device. “The more bits we have the faster we can evaluate the reliability,” he said. “...In the field, almost 100 percent of failures are single-cell related. We now check per bit.”

The technology is intended to compete with embedded NOR Flash, the type used in computers and industrial applications to store programs and relatively small quantities of data. Chang said competing with the NAND Flash used for consumer electronics audio and video storage might be feasible further down the product development path. He anticipates the company will try to roll out its first nanocrystal-based memory product to serve the automotive market in the 2008 to 2009 timeframe and that it will likely be built on a 65-nanometer process.

Chang said the use of nanocrystals would make it easier to integrate memory with a logic processor than using conventional Flash, and that semiconductor foundries would be likely to adopt it because the technology does not require new materials or equipment.
- David Forman