Researchers improve MeRAM

Researchers at UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have emerged from their smoke filled labs claiming that they have improved magnetoresistive random access memory, or MeRAM.

Apparently, all it took was to use electric voltage instead of a flowing electric current to turn MeRAM into a serious contender.

MeRAM has the potential to be used in future memory chips for almost all electronic applications, including smartphones, tablets, computers and microprocessors. It can also do data storage pretty well.

The main advantage is that it combines low energy, is denser than a Fijian rugby lock, but can read and write faster than Iris Murdoch on speed.

According to Science Daily, It can also retain data when no power is applied.   This is because makes it better than current magnetic memory is based on a technology called spin-transfer torque (STT), which uses the magnetic property of electrons in addition to their charge.

But STT still requires a certain amount of power and generates heat when data is written into it. It also limits how close to each other bits of data can be physically placed.

MeRAM replaces STT’s electric current with voltage to write data into the memory. This eliminates the need to move large numbers of electrons through wires and instead uses voltage to switch the magnetic bits and write information into the memory.

This has resulted in computer memory that generates much less heat, making it 10 to 1,000 times more energy-efficient. This means that memory can be over five-times more dense and with more bits of information stored in the same physical area, which also brings down the cost per bit.

The research team was led by principal investigator Kang Wang, UCLA’s Raytheon Professor of Electrical Engineering, and included lead author Juan Alzate, an electrical engineering graduate student, and Pedram Khalili, a research associate in electrical engineering and project manager for the UCLA-DARPA research programs in non-volatile logic.

In a paper with the catchy title, “Voltage-Induced Switching of Nanoscale Magnetic Tunnel Junctions” Khalili said that once developed into a product, MeRAM can open up new application areas where low cost and high capacity are the main constraints.

It can also be fabbed in a similar way to STT-RAM so will not cost much more to make.