Rambus Inc, purveyors of fine memory IP, is headed down the path of Flash memory, a first in company history. The purchase of Unity Semiconductor is the first step in cornering the Flash memory market thanks to, what Rambus believes to be, the forthcoming demise of NAND.
The company says it has been eyeing the Flash memory market for a while now and its time has come. So, Rambus has jumped on the best opportunity to do what it has done since its inception: snap up a keystone technology so it can develop a commercial offering and begin generating revenues through third party licensing. Rambus’ latest technology acquisition, Unity Semiconductor, will allow the company to do just that: licence CMOx Flash cell technology to any takers.
According to Rambus, speaking with TechEye, NAND has its days numbered due to the inherent difficulties in scaling the cells below a certain node (20nm), precisely where CMOx leverages its advantages. Calling it an “inflection point” in NAND usage, Rambus is betting on CMOx to carry Flash smaller nodes. At 17nm, CMOx will have four times the density of NAND.
One representative told us: “The Unity technology is well positioned to allow the industry to continue to scale as well as to reduce costs of future generations of non-volatile memory”.
Our source added that this is in line with the company's commitments and "expands the breadth of Rambus memory technologies" which will "open up new markets for licensing”.
CMOx also opens the market to new players. Rambus isn’t locked down in DRAMurai-mode. It will license the necessary IP to any takers, and considering the high demand for cheap non-volatile, low-power, high-density storage, it sounds like a promising proposal for new players.
A timeframe for the mass-market of CMOx has not yet been set by Rambus, but considering the technical requirements and the current state of manufacturing, within two years Rambus will have something that is able to compete with NAND, we gather. Right now the goal is to "broadly licence the technology and create an ecosystem of tools and equipment suppliers to enable the commercialisation of CMOx".
Micron will have a head-start in this process, as we hear the agreement inked just a year ago with Unity Semiconductor to further develop CMOx remains in place. Possibly not under the terms Rambus would like it done. That point remains unclear.
Like it or not, Rambus has been on the bleeding edge of memory development and has the sharpest legal claws one can find in the northern hemisphere. It has had its spats with the industry, but as of late, has been cleaning up unfinished business with its partners – Nvidia being the latest case.