ST samples embedded phase change memory for automotive applications

ST samples embedded phase change memory for automotive applications

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

ST’s ePCM-based devices are currently being sampled for Alpha customers, while field trials to automotive application requirements are expected in 2020, as well as full technology qualification. The MCUs, which will be the world’s first to be equipped with ePCM, target powertrain systems, advanced fused gateways, safety and driving assistance applications, and vehicle electrification.

As automotive applications become more demanding, processing power, power consumption, and memory requirements demand new architectures for automotive MCUs. Key requirements include the need for more embedded memory as the complexity and scope of firmware dramatically increases. ePCM provides a solution to these chip and system level challenges and meets automotive requirements for AEC-Q100 Grade 0 with operating temperatures up to +165 °C. In addition, ST technology ensures firmware and data retention during reflow soldering with its high temperatures and radiation resistance, providing additional data security.

At the International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) 2018 on December 4 in San Francisco, ST presented an update to the architecture and performance of a 16 MBit ePCM array for an automotive MCU based on 28 nm FD-SOI technology.

“With ST’s process, design, technology and application know-how, we have developed an innovative recipe that makes ST the very first company to combine this non-volatile memory with 28 nm FD-SOI technology to create powerful and low-power automotive microcontrollers,” said Marco Monti, president of STMicroelectronics’ Automotive and Discrete Group. 

The Phase-Change Memory (PCM), which is produced with an alloy of germanium, antimony and tellurium, uses rapid, heat-controlled switching of the material between amorphous and crystalline states. These states, which correspond to logical states 0 and 1, can be distinguished electrically by a high resistance in the amorphous state (logical 0) and a low resistance in the crystalline state (logical 1). While flash-based memories also require at least one byte or sector erase cycle before programming can be performed, PCM technology also allows individual bits to be changed, simplifying the software handling of data storage. The implementation of ST benefits from the patented technology associated with the memory cell and alloy to enable data retention even at high temperatures.

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