Phase-change memory MCUs serve automotive market

STMicroelectronics is now sampling embedded phase-change memory (ePCM) technology for automotive microcontrollers.

The company presented architecture and performance benchmarks of a technology based on 16Mbyte ePCM array 28nm FD-SOI with ePCM designed for its automotive microcontrollers at IEDM2018 earlier this month.

Products based on ePCM are sampling now to alpha customers, with field trials meeting the requirements of automotive applications and full technology qualification expected in 2020. These MCUs, believed to be the world’s first to use ePCM, will target powertrain systems, advanced and secure gateways, safety/advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) applications, and vehicle electrification.

PCM is made using a Germanium Antimony Tellurium (GST) alloy, and exploits rapid heat-controlled changes in the material’s physical property between amorphous and crystalline states. These states, which correspond to logic 0 and 1, are electrically differentiated by high resistance in the amorphous state (logic 0) and low resistance in the crystalline state (logic 1).

Unlike flash-based memories that require at least a byte- or sector-erase cycle before reprogramming, PCM technology offers single-bit alteration, which simplifies software handling of data storage. The patented memory cell technology and the GST alloy support high temperature data retention.

The automotive MCU architecture was developed in response to more demanding automotive applications, constraints on processing power, power consumption mitigation, and larger memory requirements. One of the most challenging demands is for larger embedded memories as firmware complexity and size increase dramatically, adds STMicroelectronics. ePCM is designed to meet these chip- and system-level challenges, meeting automotive requirements for AEC-Q100 Grade 0 and operating at temperature up to +165 degrees C.

ST adds that its technology assures firmware/data retention through high-temperature soldering reflow processes and immunity to radiation, for additional data safety.

STMicroelectronics delivers intelligent, energy-efficient products that can be found in vehicles, smart cities, factories and home as well as the next-generation of mobile and IoT devices.

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