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Despite all the fuss about the “more-than-Moore” approaches, introduction of new technologies in semiconductor fabs is always a challenge. Not all the blame can be placed on conservative operations executives, though, and technologists also carry their share of responsibilities. Despite never-ending improvements from researchers, who always favor the “next-big-thing-that-will-make-it-work-better,” displacing existing mature technologies, even scaled beyond reason (for example, state-of-the-art DRAM), is a difficult decision to make. At the same time, an early adopter may dominate the market by taking a timely risk and becomes a leader, while competition is playing catch-up. It is really a game of cat and mouse between the risks of being too early with a new technology or too late in the marketplace … and this may be exactly where magnetoresistive random-access memory (MRAM) stands today.
Since its inception in the late 1990s and despite numerous promising announcements, MRAM has thus far failed to live up to the expectations. The recent advent of spin transfer torque (STT), however, has shed a new light on MRAM with the promises of much improved performances and greater scalability. Semiconductor giants, IDMs, fabless companies, and now pure-play foundries are entering ...