Everspin’s ST-MRAM chips join the gigabit club

Magnetoresistive random access memory (MRAM) is hitting a milestone this year. Everspin has announced that it's begun sampling 1 Gb (128 MB) ST-MRAM chips and that products packing this high-endurance, non-volatile memory are on the way.

Everspin's ST-MRAM offers persistent memory that should offer reduced write amplification and superior endurance compared to common NAND flash technology. The new chips use a "DDR4-compatible interface." The company says that vendors could use the persistent memory tech to design enterprise SSDs or improve existing storage products by eliminating the need for backup batteries.

This memory offers significantly greater density than Everspin's current 256 Mb (32 MB) chips. The company said that moving from Global Foundries' 40-nm process to the foundry's 28-nm process was key to developing the gigabit chips and demonstrates the scalability of Everspin's perpendicular magnetic tunnel junction technology (pMTJ).

One of the first products featuring Everspin's new gigabit MRAM comes from Smart Modular. The company plans to release an NVMe PCIe drive in the half-height half-length form factor with 1 GB of ST-MRAM onboard for "metadata caching and for storage acceleration applications where power-fail-safe data are needed." Smart Modular says the unit can reach 1,500K IOPS in 4K random read and random write tests.

Everspin's 1Gb ST-MRAM chips are currently being demonstrated at the Flash Memory Summit, namely onboard the company's nvNitro storage accelerators. We imagine we'll see more products packing the new tech later this year.

Comments closed
    • Prototyped
    • 2 years ago

    Wow. Considering the fact that this is supposed to be secondary storage, primary being DRAM, this is considerably less dense than even DRAM. That suggests complete lack of competitiveness in terms of performance per dollar with NAND flash (which is today at 256 Gbit density, two orders of magnitude denser). The manufacturing costs alone must be insane for any decent amount of storage.

    (Consider that DRAM hit 1 Gbit density per IC back in 2003 — see [url<]https://www.electronicsweekly.com/news/archived/resources-archived/1gbit-ddr-dram-in-production-2003-07/[/url<] . That's fourteen years ago, for primary storage.) I can see why it's being offered as a niche tier 1.5 persistent cache -- but one has to wonder if it wouldn't often be cheaper just to have distributed DRAM caches as part of the application instead. DDR4 is faster and will be cheaper to manufacture for a given capacity -- it's just volatile (but distribution helps to avoid the need in the first place). A single DIMM of DDR4-3200 can do 25.6 GiB/s, which comes to about 6.7M 4k IOPS of throughput, and about 15 ns of latency, with upwards of 8 Gbit density (16 Gbit real soon now I understand). ST-MRAM can do about 1.5M IOPS at 6 us of latency, with 1 Gbit achieved just now. I can't imagine this is more cost effective than just using a similar capacity of RAM for caching! It probably is the fastest persistent storage, though, given the low 6 us of access. (Comparatively, 3D Xpoint aka Optane, which is almost certainly phase change memory, has latencies on the order of 100 us, which is an order of magnitude worse -- though it is available in considerably higher densities -- 128 Gbit per IC -- and its throughput is of the same order of magnitude per device -- 0.5 M IOPS.) So it seems the tiering works sort of like this -- SRAM -> DRAM -> MRAM --> 3D Xpoint --> NAND ---> Spinning platters. But I have to wonder if MRAM is even worth it at these capacities -- I'd like to know use cases that aren't better served by a RAM cache. I can think of only one -- a data journal/transaction log/intent log/replication log for much quicker acknowledgements to requests requiring data changes. That absolutely needs to be persistent, and the quicker it can be committed to non-volatile storage, the faster the response time of the system.

      • StraightOuttaGT
      • 2 years ago

      It’s nice for low-end embedded, even compared to NOR flash. Simple interface, write at the word level, and fast. It’s like super EEPROM.

      But yeah, in a 100W+ platform that can support screaming fast and complex memory controllers, I don’t see how this particular drive makes much sense. It would have to be a very niche use case.

      • DavidC1
      • 2 years ago

      “It probably is the fastest persistent storage, though, given the low 6 us of access. (Comparatively, 3D Xpoint aka Optane, which is almost certainly phase change memory, has latencies on the order of 100 us.”

      What? Optane is on the 10us range, which is same class as this one. In fact the 32GB Optane Memory is rated at 7us, nearly identical to this one. 100us for Optane is worst case, like >99% Qo
      S or something.

      Their own product page says: Latency (R/W) QD = 1 6.26µs (Read)/7.22µs (Write)

      Optane 32GB: [url<]http://ark.intel.com/products/99742/Intel-Optane-Memory-Series-32GB-M_2-80mm-PCIe-3_0-20nm-3D-Xpoint[/url<] 7us read/18 us write In fact, even putting the fastest type of memory can't be faster, because they are using NVMe to do it. QuantX version of 3D XPoint even beats this in IOPS. At 1GB capacity, and cost structure likely greater than DRAM per GB, this is basically vaporware. Might as well take it a step further and commercialize those 1-bit SRAM array using carbon nanotubes.

    • UberGerbil
    • 2 years ago

    One upon a time that image would’ve qualified as a “photo-realistic” render. Around the time I saw [url=http://www.dvorak.org/blog/whatever-happened-to-bubble-memory/<]this[/url<] at a trade show, as a matter of fact.

      • Generic
      • 2 years ago

      Naw, that image is what you get when Marketing asks Engineering to provide them with “graphics”. ‘Cause God forbid they take a picture of actual product on the floor!

      /angry drafter

      • psuedonymous
      • 2 years ago

      Has the image since been replaced? That [b<]is[/b<] a photo in the article!

        • Generic
        • 2 years ago

        Never let reality get in the way of humor!
        (looked like a CAD model on my phone)

    • CuttinHobo
    • 2 years ago

    But if MRAM hits production, which phantom always-on-the-horizon product do we need to joke about? Glaze3D?

      • RAGEPRO
      • 2 years ago

      Actually, Bitboys’ technology did sort of come to life finally, in the form of the Xbox 360. It’s a pretty interesting tale.

        • CuttinHobo
        • 2 years ago

        Ahh, yes, I didn’t realize that. It helps to explain the EDRAM approach, despite being difficult for devs to utilize.

        [url<]http://www.humus.name/index.php?page=Comments&ID=309&start=8[/url<] (Emil Persson's blog, who works at Avalanche Studios)

        • the
        • 2 years ago

        The Playstation 2 had 4 MB of eDRAM on its GPU with an aggregate 2560 bit wide bus to it.

          • RAGEPRO
          • 2 years ago

          It certainly did, although AFAIK BitBoys had nothing to do with that. I could be wrong though. BitBoys was purchased by ATI around the time that the Xbox 360 came out, and the story that I recall from that period is that ATI had used their tech in designing the Xbox 360 GPU’s memory controller and ATI wanted to avoid licensing or patent issues.

          I’m sure someone at Beyond3D could clear that up for us.

      • defaultluser
      • 2 years ago
        • Redocbew
        • 2 years ago

        A blank post about vaporware products. Brilliant!

    • chuckula
    • 2 years ago

    [quote<]Everspin[/quote<] Sunuvabeyotch! Time to go back to the drawing board for the name of my marketing consulting outfit.

      • maxxcool
      • 2 years ago

      ‘Dat name!

      • colinstu12
      • 2 years ago

      *Neverspin

      • UberGerbil
      • 2 years ago

      I thought you’d already registered for PermaTroll™?

        • chuckula
        • 2 years ago

        Yes, but that’s the propaganda subsidiary of the Chuckule Evil Mega-Corp Conglomerate™.

          • Shobai
          • 2 years ago

          I honestly hope that misspelling is part of the troll; it gets me, for sure!

          • LiamC
          • 2 years ago

          CEMCC – it has a certain ring to it…

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