Electronics and Semiconductors

Renesas Applies MONOS flash to 28-nm MCUs

18 February 2014

Japan's struggling chip company Renesas Electronics Corp. has announced it has developed the world's first embedded flash memory intellectual property that can be added to 28-nm manufacturing process for microcontrollers.

Renesas is a leading vendor of microcontrollers, particularly for the automotive sector, and already offers microcontrollers with embedded non-volatile memory at 40nm. It has developed prototype microcontrollers in 28-nm with embedded flash and was able to achieve a data retention time of 20 years and write endurance cycling of 250,000 cycles. The memory could be operated at a clock frequency of 160MHz.

The company did not say how soon it would be able to offer 28-nm MCUs with non-volatile memory for sale, but did say that it would accelerate development of 28-nm process automotive flash MCUs for commercial release.

Renesas has deployed the MONOS type of flash memory – metal oxide nitride oxide semiconductor – which it claims is comparatively easy to adapt to finer feature size processes. Renesas deployed MONOS in 150-nm process MCUs in 2004, in 90-nm MCUs in 2007, and in 40-nm MCUs in 2012.

Renesas’ current 40-nm process technology supports up to 8-Mbytes of on-chip flash memory for MCUs. However, on-chip MCU flash memory modules as large as 10-Mbytes will be required to support the increasing sophistication of the control systems implemented with MCUs, Renesas said. Single-chip MCUs developed using Renesas' 28-nm process technology will be able to support more than 16-Mbytes flash memory on chip, Renesas said.

The new 28nm flash memory IP for MCUs offers design benefits for automotive and other industries with high-reliability criteria. In ADAS (advanced driving assistant system) the increased memory capacity and performance will make it possible to support complex data processing for 3-D radar to increase safety. In the power train area the 28-nm flash process will allow finer-grained control of fuel injection and ignition through increases in the amount of mapping data used for fuel injection and increased data processing capability. This will contribute not only to increased fuel efficiency, but also to reduced environmental and energy challenges.

Renesas will accelerate their development of 28-nm process automotive flash MCUs for commercial release to support needs for high-speed readout, high reliability, and larger capacities--a maximum capacity of over 16 MB.

Renesas grasped the trend towards higher reliability and increased integration densities early on, and deployed the MONOS structure flash memory, which is comparatively easy to adapt to finer feature size processes, in 150 nm process MCUs in 2004, in 90-nm MCUs in 2007, and in 40 nm MCUs in 2012.

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