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Taiwan’s ITRI Work with UCLA on Next Gen ICT MRAM Chips

As more powerful chips are created with decreasing size, high-performance Magnetic Random Access Memory (MRAM) technology has become paramount. To advance the development of next-generation MRAM, Taiwan’s government-funded Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have jointly signed a Voltage Control Magnetic RAM (VC-MRAM) cooperation project.

Such a collaboration comes with the support from Taiwan’s Department of Industrial Technology (DoIT), Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) and the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Its goal is to leverage the technical expertise and innovative capacity from both parties to apply material components to memory chips for computing and storage.

The partnership is expected to strengthen the link between both parties and accelerate the R&D and industrialization of new memory technologies. Further, it should help companies adopt cutting-edge manufacturing processes at an early stage to enhance their industry competitiveness.

This is the first time that ITRI has received actual funding from DARPA in a cooperation initiative. We believe our strengths can be combined to add greater depth to the development of VC-MRAM technology.

– Dr Chih-I Wu, Vice President and General Director, Electronic Optoelectronic System Research Laboratories

According to the DoIT, the MOEA knows how essential leading the way in next-gen memory chips are. The government’s economic arm has long invested in the semiconductor industry and has encouraged ITRI in the R&D of Spin-Orbit Torque (SOT) MRAM technology.

Dr Sudhakar Pamarti, UCLA Professor and Circuits & Embedded Systems Area Director, detailed that ITRI has platforms and experience in the development of components and manufacturing verification. He expects that the advanced technology developed through this cooperation will create a whole new paradigm in next-generation memory by early 2023.

So far, the cutting-edge memory chip has delivered – putting researchers’ hopes up. ITRI and UCLA further collaborated on VC-MRAM based on the memory chip’s unparalleled achievements. Specifically, it boasts of 50% higher writing speed and consumes 75% less energy compared to SOT-MRAM.

SOT-MRAM, is a new version of MRAM. In an era of new non-volatile memory (NVM) technologies, SOT-MRAM promised faster write speeds and much longer endurance. It should supplant traditional Static Random-Access Memory (SRAM) arrays in systems-on-chip (SoCs) and other integrated circuits.

With the world-leading VC-MRAM in the picture, SOT-MRAM should go the way of its predecessor. VC-MRAM’s capabilities have wide-ranging applications in Information and Communication Technology (ICT). It is ideal for Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT). Also, it should fit into a host of automotive industry applications.

The Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT) refers to the adoption of AI capabilities in Internet of Things (IoT) applications. In simple terms, while the Internet of Things (IoT) is reactive, Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT) is proactive. Such a combination should achieve the goal of greater efficiency in complex operations – it looks to improve human and machine interactions and to enhance data-driven decision making. IN short, AIoT also adds ‘brain’ to the Cloud and to the Edge.

By collaborating on cutting-edge memory chip technology, Taiwan is bolstering its semiconductor industry, the country’s primary enterprise. To a large degree, such a move solidifies its seat as the global leader in the chip industry. Already, a lot of things are in the offing for Taiwan, the world’s foremost semiconductor exporter. It is expected, for instance, to reap generous rewards in the adaption of Driver Assistance Systems (DAS) in the automobile industry as the feature becomes standard in 10 years.

Then again, these new developments in memory chips also apply to the country’s digital transformation. Better memory chips mean faster ICT processes. As Taiwan puts its digital economy in full throttle with its Central Bank Digital Currency, the country should attain greater speeds, as reported on OpenGov Asia.


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