1 White Paper Crossbar Resistive Memory: The Future Technology for NAND Flash By Hagop Nazarian, Vice President of Engineering and Co-Founder Abstract NAND Flash technology has been serving the storage memory applications market for several decades thus creating a dependency that has steadily increased due to its scaling technology. However, in recent years, further scaling of this technology has shown profound limitations. Currently, it is widely accepted that scaling below 25nm has significantly degraded performance and reliability, thus, resulting in significant overhead complexity and computational power-demand from the system controller. System manufacturers as well as NAND Flash manufactures have begun the quest for a new technological solution. The most promising emerging technology is Resistive Memory. In this paper we will first provide an overview of NAND technology and the promising attributes of Crossbar s nonvolatile RRAM technology. We will also explain the benefits offered by Crossbar s technology, its characteristics and why it is the replacement technology for next generation NAND Flash. NAND Technology Overview NAND Flash technology has the largest market share in the nonvolatile memory (NVM), serving as the preferred mass storage media in applications such as solid state drives (SSD), removable media storage devices (USB and SD cards used in cameras, video recorders, and music players), tablets, smart phones and media players. Present NAND market revenue is approximately $20 billion and is projected to increase in the coming years. isuppli reported on Feb. 5, 2013: NAND industry revenue fell to $19.7 billion last year, down from $21.2 billion in Revenue, however, will pick up this year and rise to $22.4 billion after last year s stumble, and then continue to expand during the next few years. (Figure 1) $35 Worldwide NAND Industry Revenue Forecast (Billions of US Dollars) $30 $25 $20 $15 $10 $5 $ Figure 1: NAND Flash Revenue (Graph supplied by isuppi, 2013) Source: IHS isuppli Research, Janurary 2013
2 The NAND structure was introduced in 1987 by Dr. Fujio Masuoka from Toshiba. This structure uses a string of EEPROM transistors connected in a series. Figure 2 shows an SEM cross section of a 90nm NAND structure, and Figure 3 shows a schematic representation of the NAND structure with the corresponding representative cross sections. The serial connection of the NAND array and the high efficiency array structure provide excellent array efficiency and scaling properties up to the 25nm technology node. NAND manufacturers, such as Samsung, Toshiba, and Micron, are already shipping 25nm and 20nm NAND products. However, NAND technology scaling below 25nm has shown severe reliability and performance degradation, which demands increased overhead and computational power from the NAND controller logic and the host system. Bit Line Ground Select Transistor Line 0 Line 1 Line 2 Line 3 Line 4 Line 5 Line 6 Line 7 Bit Line Select Transistor Source Line N N N N N N N N N N N P Figure 2: NAND Cross Section Figure 3: A Schematic Representation of NAND Industry Views on Current NAND Flash Technology IEDM 2010 Presentation During the IEDM 2010 Presentation, Micron/Intel presented a paper titled 25nm 64Gb MLC NAND Technology and Scaling Challenges, in which several severe scaling challenges facing NAND Flash were reviewed. According to Micron/Intel, these challenges included the following: Increase in floating gate to floating gate coupling ratio Increase in RTS noise Reduction of the number of electrons in the floating gate (30-50 electrons for 300mv-500mv VT separation) Increased impact of trapped electrons to change VT Program noise due to random quantum mechanical tunneling System overhead (25bit ECC for 512B) 2011 Flash Summit During the 2011 Flash Summit, SanDisk also presented the current scaling implications of NAND technology by illustrating the growing gap between application requirements and NAND performance and reliability degradation. Michael Yang Senior Principal Analyst, Memory and Storage, IHS Ninety percent of the data we store today was created in the past two years. The creation and instant access of data has become an integral part of the modern experience, continuing to drive dramatic growth for storage for the foreseeable future. However, the current storage medium, planar NAND, is seeing challenges as it reaches the lower lithographies, pushing against physical and engineering limits. The next generation nonvolatile memory, such as Crossbar s RRAM, would bypass those limits, and provide the performance and capacity necessary to become the replacement memory solution.
3 The Best Candidate for NAND Flash Replacement Scaling NAND technology adversely impacts the retention and cycling characteristics of Flash NAND and the storage system. For example, scaling from 72nm to 20nm has shown an increase of the raw bit error rate (BER) from 1e-7 to 1e-2, and a decrease of cycling from 10,000 cycles to below 3,000 cycles. Emerging storage applications, conversely, demand higher reliability and endurance. Because of this, NAND manufacturers are realizing that present planer NAND Flash technology has reached a limit that will not be able to serve these applications. The widening gap between application requirements and Flash technology has spurred industry professionals to look into new solutions to resolve these issues. RRAM-based disruptive technologies have been sited and chosen by major R&D corporations as the best potential replacement for NAND Flash. At IEDM 2010, Sungjoo Hong from Hynix stated that RRAM can be one of the suitable candidates for a storage application due to its possibility of multistackable crosspoints. During the 2011 Flash Summit, SanDisk CTO Yoram Cedar presented this message: 3D RRAM technology development shows the best promise for a scalable post- NAND technology. Again, at the 2013 ISSCC, Tz-Yi Liu from SanDisk presented 32Gbit RRAM Memory Device in 24nm Technology, where he stated that RRAM has been considered one of the potential technologies for the next generation nonvolatile memory, given its fast access speed, high reliability, and multi-level capability. Crossbar 3D Resistive Memory Technology Crossbar RRAM technology is based on filamentary nanoparticles while using simple CMOS compatible materials. Each cell is located at the crossbar junction of metal layers and it scales down to at minimum 5nm nodes. The cell is manufactured at low temperatures and is built between interconnecting metal layers as shown in Figure 4. Figure 5 shows a representative cross section of Crossbar technology. Greg Wong Founder, President and Principal Analyst, Forward Insights For several years now, companies have focused on developing a next generation memory technology that will lead to significant improvements in reliability, performance, low power operation and scalability compared to existing non-volatile memories. Forward Insights believes that RRAM, including Crossbar s approach, has the potential to succeed NAND flash memory due to its scalability and manufacturability. With the realization of a working demo array, we are excited to see the future impact of this technology on a wide range of applications from mobile and connected devices, to storage and data centers. Figure 4: Crossbar RRAM Cell The Crossbar cells are sandwiched between interconnecting layers. Figure 5: How it Works In a switching media, nanoparticles form a conduction path between the top and bottom electrodes.
4 Crossbar Memory Characteristics Stackable. A Crossbar cell is stackable, therefore, providing high density 3D arrays without occupying additional silicon area. This feature provides a significant advantage in lowering the cost per gigabit. Plus, by improving the array efficiency and die size compared to existing NAND technology, it accommodates the trend toward smaller devices. Figure 6 shows a representative cross section of the Crossbar cell array integrated on top of the CMOS controller logic. Note that the area under the array is used for building the CMOS circuits, which increases the array efficiency and results in significant die size savings. Sherry Garber, Founding Partner, Convergent Semiconductors RRAM is widely considered the obvious leader in the battle for a next generation memory and Crossbar is the company most advanced, showing a working demo that proves the manufacturability of RRAM. This is a significant development in the industry, as it provides a clear path to commercialization of a new storage technology, capable of changing the future landscape of electronics innovation. Four Crossbar Memory Layers: (4F 2 /4 = 1F 2 ) Stacking enables true high density Repeating same step simplifies memory process toolset CMOS Controller Logic: Tucked under memory array to save die space No large high voltage transistors required Two Metallization Layers : Route signals from controller logic to memory array Figure 6: 4-Layer Crossbar Array The representative cross section illustrates how the array is built on top of the CMOS. Rectifying and Large R off /R on Ratio. The IV curve in Figure 7 shows several distinctive properties of the Crossbar RRAM memory cell. Two of them, the large Ion/ Ioff ratio (>1000) and the rectifying characteristic of the memory cell, are key factors that will support products with large sensing margins, MLC operations, and high density array constructions all suitable for future high density market segments. Manufactured at Low Temperatures. Because the cell is manufactured at low temperatures, it is compatible with CMOS and can be easily integrated into existing systems. Low Programming Current. Because it is dominated by electric fields, it requires only a low programming current current range of 1μA to 10μA per programming cycle. Low Voltage. Because it is not based on Joule heating phenomenon or high current conduction, like other PCRAM and RRAM technologies, a typical programming requires only approximately 3 volts. Fast Switching Time. Because it is driven by electric fields, the switching time is 100ns or less per programming cycle. Figure 7: 50nm x 50nm RRAM Cell IV The curve illustrates several distinctive properties of the Crossbar RRAM memory cell.
5 Characteristics NAND Crossbar RRAM Comments Effective Cell Size (SLC) 5.44F F 2 RRAM provides better array efficiency and smaller die size Technology Scalability Performance degradation below 25nm <5nm Scales since it is nanoparticle-based memory Stackable/MLC MLC Stackable MLC RRAM provides smaller die size, CMOS circuits can be built under the 3D RRAM array Process Complexity Complex FEOL Periphery HV transistors do not scale Simpler BEOL compatible with CMOS tech scaling RRAM does not need ultra-high voltage transistors. Easier to integrate with standard CMOS technologies Program Performance 7MB/sec 140MB/sec RRAM performance is 20x faster Page Erase / Byte Erase Not Available Not Required RRAM significantly improves system performance by not requiring Erase prior to Program Byte Program Not Available Available RRAM significantly improves system performance Asynchronous (XIP) Read.04MB/sec 17MB/sec RRAM will provide faster NAND-like products Program Energy/Cell 1360pJ/cell 64pJ/cell RRAM improves programming performance and power consumption Endurance 3K cycles 1E6 RRAM improves memory system lifetime and performance by eliminating wear-leveling due to high endurance Retention 1-3 years 20yr RRAM provides significant improvement to system lifetime and reliability due to better retention Table 1: Key Attributes The table compares the key attributes of NAND and Crossbar RRAM
6 Conclusion Crossbar s patented nonvolatile RRAM memory technology exhibits the physical and electrical performance characteristics that are the key to driving the storage system evolution without sacrificing performance and reliability. With these breakthrough characteristics, Crossbar RRAM promises to provide storage systems with high density, superior performance and superior reliability and satisfy the needs of next generation devices. RRAM s Characteristics Simple cell structure CMOS compatible material Small cell structure 4F 2 Scalability to 5nm node Low program/erase current 2μA, high R off /R on ratio >1000 3D stackability High endurance Long retention Low power Multi-level Jim Handy Director, Objective Analysis The memory market is looking to new technologies to take over once flash reaches its scaling limit. Crossbar s impressive progress in the development of a manufacturable ReRAM gives a big boost to this popular alternative memory. Alan Niebel Founder and CEO, WebFeet Research To date, there has not been a viable 2D or 3D NAND replacement technology. Storage Class Memories like Crossbar s RRAM have a chance of capturing this elusive NAND replacement $40+ billion prize. Crossbar s working RRAM technology array demonstrates significant commercialization progress. Continuing on this trajectory they could lead the market with a cost effective crosspoint, multi-layer (8) RRAM ahead of the 3D NAND or their 3D RRAM competition. Headquarters: 3200 Patrick Henry Dr. Suite 110 Santa Clara, CA Phone: (408) Founded in 2010, Crossbar, a start-up based in Santa Clara, California, is the inventor of a new class of non-volatile RRAM memory technology. Designed to usher in a new era of electronics innovation, Crossbar will deliver up to a terabyte (TB) of storage on a single-chip the size of a postage stamp, with very low power, very high performance and compatibility with standard CMOS semiconductor manufacturing processes. As the exclusive holder of resistive RAM (RRAM) patents from the University of Michigan, Crossbar has filed 100 unique patents, with 30 already issued, relating to the development, commercialization and manufacturing of RRAM technology. Crossbar is backed by Artiman Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Northern Light Venture Capital. For more information, visit Copyright All rights reserved. Crossbar, Inc., the Crossbar logo and certain other Crossbar trademarks and logos are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Crossbar, Inc. 0813
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