UK memory startup raises €1.5m, looks to imec

UK memory startup raises €1.5m, looks to imec

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The company is a 2017 spin-off from University College London and the funding round was led by UCL Technology Fund and IP Group plc. The money will be used to allow Intrinsic to engage with semiconductor research foundry imec in Leuven.

Intrinsic plans to develop non-volatile memory on 300mm silicon wafers but did not discuss what geometries it plans to work at or a timetable for any collaboration.

Intrinsic’s technology is based on the ability to switch the electrical resistance across thin layers of silicon oxide. As such, the research has followed a similar path to that of Professor James Tour at Rice University. Professor Tour’s work has been instrumental in the formation of Weebit Nano Ltd., a public company pursuing silicon-oxide based non-volatile memory.

Silicon dioxide is used an insulator in conventional CMOS chip production so the possibility that it could also be configured as a memory element offers the attractive prospect of materials compatibility.

Issues over the scaling of the industry’s dominant non-volatile memory – flash memory – have led to a wave of innovative approaches to creating non-volatile memory, although without any great success to date (see Micron turns its back on 3D-XPoint, puts fab up for sale).

Intrinsic was founded in December 2017 by Professor Tony Kenyon and Dr Adnan Mehonic. Mark Dickinson, a former executive with Altera, ARM and Imagination Technologies, was appointed CEO of Intrinsic in April 2019.

“Intrinsic’s memristor technology will transform next generation systems by combining high performance with ease of integration in digital CMOS. By basing our devices on silicon oxide, we ensure that they are as simple and as cheap to integrate with silicon-based electronics as it is possible to be,” said Professor Tony Kenyon, co-founder of Intrinsic and Professor of nanoelectronic and nanophotonic materials, in a statement.

Adnan Mehonic, co-founder of Intrinsic and assistant professor at UCL’s department of electrical and electronic Engineering, said the technology could be used for analog artificial intelligence processors and for neuromorphic and spiking-based computing.

Weebit Nano Ltd. (Hod Hasharon, Israel) was founded in 2014 and has made considerable progress in developing silicon-oxide embedded and stand-alone memory. It claims to be on track to achieve its first commercial agreement by mid-2021. Weebit has said it will continue to work on stand-alone memory development whilst also developing a next generation of its neuromorphic demonstration. Weebit has a long-term development partnership wit Leti in Grenoble.

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