|Ferroelectric Memory Company (FMC) FeFET technology heralds a new era of non-volatile memories|
|Memory with significantly reduced power consumption and high speed enables excellent scalability of embedded solutions for microcontrollers and SoCs|
|Dresden, July 11, 2018. Ferroelectric Memory GmbH (FMC) develops and markets innovative non-volatile memory solutions, in particular embedded memories for microcontrollers and systems-on-a-chip (SoC). These memories must satisfy increasingly demanding requirements in terms of scalability, number of write cycles and duration of data retention even in extreme environmental conditions. The current industry standard for embedded nonvolatile memory, the eFlash technology, meets these requirements only at the price of increasingly complex manufacturing processes.
FMC's ferroelectric FETs use the ferroelectric property of hafnium oxide (HfO2) to transform CMOS logic transistors into efficient nonvolatile memory devices. FeFETs benefit directly from the massive investments and innovations that lead to the scaling of standard CMOS processes to 7nm nodes and beyond.
Comparison with other technologies
One-transistor memories based on ferroelectric HfO2 offer three main advantages over competing new memory solutions, such as MRAM (Magnetoresistive RAM), PCM (Phase Change RAM) or RRAM (Resistive RAM): First, the FeFET Memory provides high current drive capability and high read speeds, while efficient switching of memory cells results in fast writing with extremely low power consumption. Second, FeFET memories are exceptionally robust against environmental factors such as magnetic fields, radiation, and extreme temperatures. Third, FeFETs are based on high-k metal-gate CMOS-based technologies and can therefore benefit from their scaling advantages. FeFETs can be manufactured with existing manufacturing equipment and only a few low-complexity additional processing steps are required.
"Our innovative nonvolatile memory technology addresses the current and future needs of the industry, with 1000 times higher speed and 1000 times lower power consumption than the current standard, with significant reductions in manufacturing costs and efficient scalability," Dr. Stefan Müller, CEO of FMC. "Basically, the new memory technology is also suitable for stand-alone ICs, but initially we are focusing on the high-growth embedded memory market."
Structure and functional principle
FMC's embedded memory technology utilizes the ferroelectric properties of crystalline hafnium oxide. Hafnium oxide – in its amorphous form – is the gate insulator material of CMOS transistors from the 45 nm to the 7 nm node and beyond. FMC's proprietary technology makes it possible to transform amorphous into crystalline, ferroelectric HfO2. In this way, any standard CMOS transistor can be converted into a ferroelectric field effect transistor (FeFET) - and thus a nonvolatile memory cell.
In a FeFET, the polarization direction within the hafnium oxide is switched downwards with a positive gate-write pulse applied to the transistor gate, which leads to the threshold voltage of the transistor being lowered. With a negative gate-write pulse, however, the polarization is directed upward, the threshold voltage is increased. To read the memory cell, a voltage between the expected lower and upper threshold voltages is applied at the transistor gate. If the transistor is conducting, a zero was stored, if the transistor is not conducting, a one was stored. The material maintains its polarization even when no voltage is applied and is therefore non-volatile.
Availability and design support
FMC commercializes its proprietary FeFET technology in partnership with semiconductor foundries. Target customers are fabless IC design companies offering microcontrollers and SoCs. FeFET memories are suitable ideal for applications such as smart card, automotive controllers, IoT applications, deep learning and artificial intelligence (AI) - for both mobile devices and the data center.
FMC supports semiconductor foundries with transistor design and test-chip design, electrical characterization, memory array qualification and technology licensing. Together with its foundry partners, FMC provides eNVM macros to fabless IC design companies, including documentation, simulation models, and design data needed for efficient integration into the target designs. In addition, FMC develops and qualifies storage solutions that are tailored to customer-specific requirements in terms of functionality, density, and form factor, as well as speed grade and energy consumption.
FMC has demonstrated memory arrays on the 28nm and 22nm technology nodes and has shown the potential to scale to even the latest CMOS technology nodes.
FMC offers highly efficient embedded, non-volatile memory FeFET memory solutions. FeFET memories are characterized by very low power consumption, high speed, high storage density and robust temperature stability. Technology development was funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Free State of Saxony. The FMC team was supported by "EXIST Forschungstransfer", a program of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The company was founded in 2016 and is based in Dresden.
Ferroelectric Memory Company GmbH has recently announced the successful completion of growth funding of € 4.6 million (https://www.presseagentur.com/fmc/). The funds enable the company to expand its team, accelerate the development of its solutions, and gain significant market share.
More information can be found at www.ferroelectric-memory.com.