[Beowulf] more spintronics sightings

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Wed Dec 12 02:29:50 PST 2012

(designed as a drop-in replacement for L2 cache in low-power SoCs).


Toshiba's New STT-MRAM Memory Element Promises

World's Best Power Consumption and to Outperform SRAM

Cuts power consumption of mobile processor by two-thirds

10 Dec, 2012

TOKYO—Toshiba Corporation (TOKYO: 6502) today announced that the company has
developed a prototype memory element for a spin transfer torque
magnetoresistive random access memory (STT-MRAM) that achieves the world's
lowest1 power consumption yet reported, indicating that it has the potential
to surpass the power consumption efficiency of SRAM as cache memory.

Like all digital products, mobile devices, including smartphones and tablet
PCs, rely on high-speed memory to supply the main processor with essential
instructions and frequently requested data. Until now SRAM has provided the
cache-memory solution. However, improving the performance of SRAM to match
advances in mobile products results in increasing current leakage, both
during operation and in standby mode, degrading power performance.

MRAM, a next-generation memory based on magnetic materials, has emerged as an
alternative to SRAM because it is non-volatile, cutting leak current during
standby status. However, until now MRAM power consumption has exceeded that
of SRAM, throwing up a major barrier to practical application.

Toshiba's new memory element advances the company's pioneering work in
STT-MRAM and overcomes the longstanding operating trade-off by securing
improved speed while reducing power consumption by 90 percent2. The improved
structure is based on perpendicular magnetization3 and takes element
miniaturization to below 30nm. Introduction of this newly designed
"normally-off" memory circuit with no passes for current to leak into cuts
leak current to zero in both operation and standby without any specific power
supply management.

Toshiba has confirmed the performance of the new STT-MRAM memory element with
a highly accurate processor simulator. This modeled application of an
STT-MRAM integrating the memory as cache memory and recorded a two-thirds
reduction in power consumption by a standard mobile chip set carrying out
standard operating functions, a result confirming that the new MRAM element
has the lowest power consumption yet achieved. This clearly points the way
toward the first MRAM with the potential to surpass SRAM in practical

Going forward Toshiba expects to bring the new memory element to STT-MRAM
cache memory for mobile processors integrated into smartphones and tablet
PCs, and will promote accelerated research and development toward that end.

This work includes results from the "Normally-off Computing" project funded
by Japan's NEDO (New Energy and Industrial Technology Development
Organization). Toshiba will present three papers on the new STT-MRAM and its
technologies on December 11 and 12 at IEDM, the International Electron Device
Meeting held by IEEE in San Francisco from December 10.


1.  As of December 10, 2012. Source: Toshiba Corporation. 

2.  Comparison with the data of STT-MRAM University of Minnesota and
colleagues announced the paper of 2012. 

3.  Magnetization perpendicular to the magnetic layer. This can be reversed
at a lower energy level than in-plane magnetization, making it possible to
program data at a lower current and fabricate smaller transistors. Toshiba
developed the world's first perpendicular MRAM in 2007 


Figure 1 Cross-section of memory element of Toshiba's perpendicular
magnetization type STT-MRAM



Figure2. Relationship between MRAM processing speed and power consumption

More information about the Beowulf mailing list