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Memory and Storage

Russian Chip Firm Opens MRAM Fab

31 October 2013

Crocus Nano Electronics, a joint venture between Rusnano Corp. and Crocus Technology SA, launched production of a magnetoresistive random-access memory (MRAM) manufacturing facility at Technopolis Moscow, a partnership between Rusnano and the Moscow City Government.

MRAMs combine energy independence with rapid writing/reading speed and a virtually unlimited number of rewrite cycles. Crocus Nano Electronics will manufacture products based on Crocus Technology’s magnetic logic unit (MLU), a disruptive CMOS-based rugged magnetic technology it is developing with IBM.

MLU offers important advantages in high-speed, secure and robust performance at lower cost for its broadening portfolio of embedded products and non-volatile memory blocks. The technology may be used in smart cards, biometric authenticating devices, near field communications, and secure memory. The market for product applications manufactured by the portfolio company is forecast to exceed $8 billion in 2014.

Moscow is developing the center for innovative high-tech industry on the site of the former Moskvich automobile factory. Crocus Nano Electronics is the first resident of the future microelectronic cluster.

Total investment exceeds 200 million euros ($274 million), including 100 million euros from Rusnano.

MRAMs operate with magnetic polarization of memory elements and retain data when power is lost.

This first production line was completed just a year after construction began. It will produce the world’s first MRAM with 90-nm process technology. At the plant, 200- and 300-millimeter CMOS foundry wafers will be coated with additional layers to create memory cells. By the end of 2014, the plant will have capacity to turn out 500 wafers per week.

MRAM has a storied background. In the mid-1990s several companies simultaneously began intensive MRAM development. Motorola introduced the first chip, a 1-Mbit device processed in 180-nm in 2005. Crocus Technology, located near Grenoble, France, was successful in creating working 130-nm chips and demonstrated the viability of 90-nm magnetoresistive memory using its patented thermally assisted switching technology for manufacturing advanced MRAMs by heating the memory cells.

Rusnano was founded as an open joint stock company in March 2011 with the mission to develop the Russian nanotechnology industry through co-investment in nanotechnology projects with substantial economic potential or social benefits. The Government of the Russian Federation owns 100 percent of the shares in Rusnano.

The production announcement was made at the Open Innovations Forum, taking place this week in Moscow. Taking part in in the announcement by satellite link up were Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, Rusnano CEO Anatoly Chubais, Crocus Technology VP for Worldwide Operations Jean-Luc Sentis and Crocus Nano Electronics General Director Boris Omarov.

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