Samsung: Grandis

Company Background

Grandis develops and licenses non-volatile memory solutions derived from cutting-edge research in spintronics. Their mission is to enable revolutionary products through application of the electron’s spin to store, manipulate and transmit information.  Grandis was established in 2002 and is headquartered in Silicon Valley, California (1a).

Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. acquired Grandis Inc. in 2011. Grandis  merged into Samsung R&D operations focused on developing next-generation memory, where new semiconductor materials and structures are reviewed for their long-term commercial value.  Grandis would contribute to Samsung’s development of memory technology and become a key part of the company's global R&D network (2).

Strategic Partnerships

Prior to the acquisition, Grandis’ investors included Applied Ventures, Sevin Rosen Funds, Matrix Partners, Incubic and Concept Ventures combined in the amount of about $15 million (1a). 

 In 2008, Hynix Semiconductor Inc. and Grandis signed a long-term license agreement for memory products incorporating Grandis' patents and intellectual property in spin-transfer torque random access memory (STT-RAM). The two companies have also entered into a collaborative agreement to jointly integrate Grandis' fundamental STT-RAM technology into Hynix's future memory products (1b).

 In 2010, Grandis was awarded a new contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop non-volatile spin logic.  Under the contract, the company will expand its cutting-edge development of spintronics and advanced magnetic materials beyond non-volatile STT-RAM memory into non-volatile logic applications. Non-volatile spin logic is a next-generation, solid-state logic technology that, in addition to being non-volatile, ultra-fast and radiation-hard, promises radically lower power consumption than conventional CMOS logic (3).

Innovation and Technology

Grandis’ proprietary Spin-Transfer Torque RAM  technology has all the characteristics of an ideal “universal memory” and represents a breakthrough over first-generation, field-switched magnetic random access memory (MRAM) technology. Also known as STT-MRAM, STT-RAM’s unique synthesis of non-volatility, low power consumption, ultra-fast read and write speed, unlimited endurance, and extendibility beyond the 32 nm semiconductor node, provides significant advantages over conventional memory technologies and offers system designers the ability to develop new products with high performance, low power consumption and low cost (1a).

Spin-transfer torque (STT) switching is a new physics phenomenon that was theoretically predicted in 1996 and first demonstrated in metallic thin films as recently as 2000. Although STT switching currents were initially orders of magnitude too high for application in practical devices, Grandis was founded in 2002 with the goal of developing a novel non-volatile memory technology that applies the many benefits of STT switching to magnetic tunnel junctions (MTJs). Researchers at Grandis undertook pioneering research in spintronics and pursued new magnetic materials and innovative MTJ structures to lower STT switching currents. Through these advances in materials research, coupled with its extensive modeling, simulation, integration, cell architecture, circuit and system design capabilities, Grandis has developed a package that enables its licensees to incorporate stand-alone or embedded STT-RAM non-volatile memory into their products (1c).

Products

  • STT-RAM™(1a).

Sources

  1. Grandis Inc. (2007). Retrieved on October 8, 2013
    1. “Grandis Overview” from http://grandisinc.com/company/index.html
    2. “Hynix and Grandis Sign License and Joint Development Agreement on Spin-Transfer Torque MRAM (STT-RAM)” from http://grandisinc.com/pdf/Grandis_PR_Apr01_2008.pdf
    3. “STT-RAM Technology” from http://grandisinc.com/technology/index.html
  2. EE Times (2011, August 2). “Samsung buys MRAM developer Grandis.”  Retrieved on October 8, 2013 from www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1259991
  3. AZoNano (2010, November 19). “Grandis Receives DARPA Contract to Develop Non-Volatile Spin Logic.” Retrieved on October 8,2013 from  www.azonano.com/news.aspx?newsID=20617