MRAM- Magnetoresistive Random Access Memory
- by Susith Nonis
- in New Technologies
Since their inception, computers have gone through many different memory and storage configurations. From using punched cards to load programs into computers within their earliest stages to storing data on floppy discs and hard drives, we have definitely seen constant innovation to help us keep track of the seemingly endless flow of data we generate with the modern computer usage patterns.
There are three important factors we should take into account when choosing the correct memory for a computer build. The capacity of the device, its speed and most importantly, its volatility. Hard drives and SSDs have the most capacity out of all storage devices and retain stored data even when the power is shut down but are very slow when compared to things like DRAM and cache memory.
What is MRAM?
There is, however, a new technology on the market which might have the ability to combine the densities of storage memory with the speeds of SRAM. MRAM (Magnetic Random Access Memory) is a memory technology which stores information using electron spin.
(caption) an example of MRAM
The technology is still under development and is still very far from realizing its full potential. Right now, there are MRAM devices available on the market, ranging from a few Mbs to 1Gb chips.
Why choose MRAM over other types of RAM?
There are multiple advantages this storage technology has over other available devices:
- It’s non-volatile and power-efficient
- Has speeds comparable to SRAM
- Can operate in extreme-temperature conditions
- Has a longer estimated lifespan than any other computer component
To every upside, however, there is also a downside. MRAM are more expensive per bit than any other non-volatile memory device and the highest capacity available currently is only 1Gb.
What are the uses of MRAM?
Although regular computer users will most probably never need to use MRAM within their machines, the technology offers some good large datacenter applications. It can be used as a high-speed backup medium for server racks in case of a power failure. Servers use DRAM but also need to be hardened against power failures, which can mean relying on huge batteries while the memory is laboriously copied to relatively slow flash devices. Everspin’s alternative is to use MRAM for backups, making core dumps a lot quicker. Long-term retention isn’t required.