Ferroelectric memory startup aims to be “The ARM of memories”

Ferroelectric memory startup aims to be “The ARM of memories”

Business news |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

Based on patents of the defunct memory manufacturer Qimonda, FMC has developed a technology for the design of very fast and non-volatile memories up to (almost) series production readiness. The company’s ferroelectric FETs (FeFETs) use techniques and materials that are well established and largely mastered in the semiconductor industry, Müller said. In addition, these memory devices make it much easier to reduce the size of semiconductor structures than technologies available on the market, such as embedded flash or EEPROM. “We can convert any CMOS or FDSOI transistor into a non-volatile memory cell,” said Müller.

As early as 2012, FMC and its research partner Globalfoundries demonstrated the economic feasibility of FeFET production. Now the technology is approaching production maturity, and FMC is thinking about which markets they want to serve. Because of its specific technological requirements, its sheer size of $40 billion and its strong annual growth of 17%, the FMC team has considered the microcontroller market. Not only are there the best growth prospects here, but also the lowest market entry threshold, said Müller. With increasing digitalization, there are many application fields – from medical technology, cars and the manufacturing industry to consumer electronics and the Internet of Things. Müller said that the technology is also suitable for use in harsh environments such as automobiles. “I don’t see the risk of interference from electromagnetic fields.” In a more distant future, the FeFET technology could even be used for microprocessor cache memories, today a domain of SRAM technology.

Next page: Technology status and outlook

Promising perspective: the FeFET non-volatile memory technology
in today’s reality, in the lab and its potential in theory

However, the technology has yet to mature. The non-volatile memories from Dresden are not yet fully qualified – a condition without which series production is not possible. Materials at the semiconductor level also still require some optimization. Towards this end, FMC plans to cooperate with the major semiconductor manufacturers. However, Müller did not want to specify a concrete roadmap for the market launch. “We want to use the Series A financing we have now received for the qualification,” said Müller. “But we don’t want to be pinned down to an exact schedule.”


The manager becomes more specific in questions about the future business model. In the short term – as soon as the qualification is completed – FMC wants to earn its money by licensing the technology to foundries and IDMs. In the longer term, the company wants to generate sales primarily with design enablement and licensing; potential customers would then be fabless companies and IDMs, for example. “We want to become something like an “ARM for memories,” said Müller.

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