Resistive Memory - ReRam

ReRam_Crossbar-Feature_vlsiencyclopedia

The memory tech that will eventually replace NAND flash, finally in market

What is ReRam?

ReRam is Resistive random-access memory (RRAM or ReRAM) is a type of non-volatile (NV) random-access (RAM) computer memory that works by changing the resistance across a dielectric solid-state material often referred to as a memristor. The biggest advantage of ReRAM technology is its good compatibility with CMOS technologies.

It is under development by a number of companies, and some have already patented their own versions of the technology. The memory operates by changing the resistance of special dielectric material called a memresistor (memory resistor) whose resistance varies depending on the applied voltage.

What makes ReRam?

From the viewpoint of the material choice, the advantage of ReRAM is evident. It is possible to fabricate MOM structures easily by using the oxides widely used in the current semiconductor technologies. Low-current ReRAM operation was reported in the CuOx-based MOM structure. The CuOx layer was grown by the thermal oxidation of the 0.18-μm Cu. NiO and CoO are being intensively studied as oxide materials for ReRAM, and these transition metal elements are also used in metal silicides employed as gate materials. Recently, the good scaling feasibility of ReRAM was demonstrated in an HfOx-based memory with a cell size of 30 nm. The devices in a 1-kbit array exhibited a high device yield (~100%) and robust cycling endurance (>106) with a pulse width of 40 ns. The memory cell consisted of a TiN/Ti/HfOx/TiN structure. Here, the Ti overlayer played the role of oxygen gettering for better ReRAM operation. The gettering effect has already been investigated in HfOx as a high-k material for the gate dielectric films in CMOS devices. The academic and technological knowledge about high-k materials will be very useful in the design of the stacking structure for a ReRAM device.

How ReRam Works?

RRAM is the result of a new kind of dielectric material which is not permanently damaged and fails when dielectric breakdown occurs; for a memresistor, the dielectric breakdown is temporary and reversible. When voltage is deliberately applied to a memresistor, microscopic conductive paths called filaments are created in the material. The filaments are caused by phenomena like metal migration or even physical defects. Filaments can be broken and reversed by applying different external voltages. It is this creation and destruction of filaments in large quantities that allows for storage of digital data. Materials that have memresistor characteristics include oxides of titanium and nickel, some electrolytes, semiconductor materials, and even a few organic compounds have been tested to have these characteristics.

The principal advantage of RRAM over other non-volatile technology is high switching speed. Because of the thinness of the memresistors, it has a great potential for high storage density, greater read and write speeds, lower power usage, and cheaper cost than flash memory. Flash memory cannot continue to scale because of the limits of the materials, so RRAM will soon replace flash memory.

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