Weebit pivots SiOx memory towards embedded – and revenue

Weebit pivots SiOx memory towards embedded – and revenue

Business news |
By Peter Clarke

Coby Hanoch, CEO of Weebit, told eeNews Europe that his company would continue to pursue the leading edge at 28nm geometries and below, but that there are also numerous opportunities behind the leading edge for dense embedded non-volatile memory.

“We’ve demonstrated good endurance at one million cycles and life times of 10 years at 130, even 150 degrees, which is good for automotive. Now the task is to get the technology into a production fab.”

Hanoch said Weebit is working with a South Korean chip manufacturer in the analog and mixed-signal space. He declined to give the name but said that as well as producing chips in their own name the company offers foundry production services. The transfer is being done initially at feature geometries larger than 40nm Hanoch said.

“Flash memory is a front-end of line technology which means that every change in the technology affects the whole of the production process. This company likes that SiOx ReRAM is in the back-end of line. Other ReRAM process require exotic materials and capital expenditure. They like that SiOx ReRAM is a relatively straightforward addition,” said Hanoch.

“We will also still be working on 28nm but a startup goes where the money is.” Hannoch added.

Hannoch said that trying to engage with semiconductor giants to displace flash was inconceivable right now. “Trying to compete in semiconductor manufacturing is suicide. These companies have invested billions and billions of dollars on 3D NAND flash and now they are going to 192 layers and so on. We can’t compete with that at this point.

Hanoch said ReRAM will compete in the future because flash memory does not scale, and that it would play its part particularly in embedded applications.

Meanwhile there are markets for non-volatile memory modules in analog and mixed-signal circuits, in IoT ASICs and in automotive applications, Hanoch said.

Next: MagnaChip?

One possibility for Weebit’s unnamed partners is MagnaChip Semiconductor Ltd.

However, in February 2019 MagnaChip announced that it had begun a strategic evaluation of the company’s foundry business and of the future for Fab 4 in Cheongju, the larger of its two 200mm manufacturing facilities. Fab 4 could end up being owned by SK Hynix as part of its own diversification away from stand-alone memory component manufacturing (see SK Hynix mulls buying MagnaChip fab, foundry business).

Weebit recently made a deal with XTX Technology Ltd. (Shenzhen, China) a provider of flash memory and an assembler of system-in-package components and modules. This is more likely to be at the leading edge and making use of 28nm technology, either in bulk CMOS or fully-depleted silicon-on-insulator (FDSOI) technology. The two companies have signed a letter-of-intent to investigate ways in which XTX can use Weebit’s technology in its products. Although XTX distributes or packages up other vendors flash chips it also creates its own chips using Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) as its foundry. So a fab belonging to SMIC could be the second commercial manufacturing site for the silicon-oxide based ReRAM.

Hanoch said it was too early to give a time-scale for production through either South Korea or China.

Weebit, which although it is a startup is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, is also announcing the raising of Australian $5 million (about $3.4 million) through a two-part share purchase plan. One part is a private placement and the second part is a share purchase plan.

Related links and articles:

News articles:

SK Hynix mulls buying MagnaChip fab, foundry business

SiOx ReRAM selected for neuromorphic research

University College London spins out ReRAM startup

Weebit, Technion collaborate on processing-in-memory

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