Technology Mix Spurs MRAM Breakthrough

Düsseldorf, Germany: Fabrication of a magnetoresistive random-access memory (MRAM) that integrates two new technologies—spin transfer switching and perpendicular magnetic anisotropy (PMA)—was successfully achieved by Toshiba.

MRAM, a next-generation, nonvolatile semiconductor memory device that offers fast random write/access speeds, enhances endurance in operation with very low power consumption. MRAM can theoretically achieve high-level integration because the memory-cell structure is relatively simple.

In making these advances, Toshiba applied and proved the spin transfer switching and PMA technologies in a magnetic tunnel junction, which is a key component in the memory cell. Spin transfer switching uses the properties of electron spin to invert magnetisation and writes data at very low power levels. PMA aligns magnetisation in the magnetic layer perpendicularly.

Toshiba also overcame the hurdle of achieving the required precision in the interface process and significantly cut write power consumption.

In addition, to realise a miniature memory cell based on PMA, Toshiba optimised the MRAM’s materials and device structure (see the figure).

A switch in the switch arena
Dole, France: Following the sale of ITT’s Switch division in France, the newly formed, privately held company C&K Components was founded. It will combine the experience of C&K Components of Newton, Mass., USA; the Rudolf Schadow Company of Berlin, Germany; and the Jean Renaud switch company of Dole, France.

TSMC Europe names president
Hsinchu, Taiwan: TSMC appointed Maria Marced as president of TSMC Europe. Before joining TSMC, Marced was senior vice-president and general manager of sales and marketing at NXP Semiconductors (previously Philips Semiconductors). There she contributed to the creation of its new brand entity, NXP, and was involved in the company’s sale to a private equity consortium.

Prior to joining Philips, she was vice president and head of Intel’s European operations.

Ms. Marced holds a PhD in telecommunications engineering from Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, Spain.

Silicon solution eyes RF apps
Eindhoven, Netherlands: The BFU725F microwave NPN transistor is the first in a series of siliconbased discrete solutions to be launched by NXP Semiconductors. The device is a blend of high switching frequency, high gain, and low noise that suits it for a variety of RF applications.

According to NXP, the low noise figure improves the reception of the sensitive RF receivers found in various wireless devices, such as GPS systems, DECT phones, and satellite radio. And, its high cut-off frequency suits applications in the 10 to 30GHz range.

The BFU725F transistor was created using NXP’s silicon-germaniumcarbon process technology for discrete components, the same process used to develop monolithic ICs and wideband transistors. The RoHScompliant device is available now.

Award win for Burnett
London, England: The National Microelectronics Institute (NMI), the trade association for the U.K. and Irish semiconductor industry, presented its “Contribution to Industry” award to Ian Burnett at the NMI’s annual awards dinner in London.

Burnett, the managing director of IDB Technologies and a director of Jemi UK, the Joint Equipment and Materials Initiative, was recognised for his work in supporting new companies in the sector. The award also commended his guiding of new technologies from the science base into commercial applications.

The other NMI award winners were: Energy efficiency, Freescale Semiconductor; Start-up of the year, Nanotech Semiconductor; Innovation, ST Microelectronics (Imaging Division); Services to training and education, EDA Solutions; Emerging technology company of the year, DisplayLink; and Manufacturing site of the year, Zetex Semiconductors.

TAGS: Intel
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