Spansion makes diversity play with SONOS-based MirrorBit technology

by Debra Vogler, Senior Technical Editor, Solid State Technology

Pure-play flash memory provider Spansion has announced plans for its next-generation MirrorBit ORNAND architecture based on its proprietary charge-trapping storage technology. The “MirrorBit ORNAND2” family, utilizing 45nm processes, will use a SONOS-like memory cell connected in a NAND memory array.

According to Bertrand Cambou, president and CEO of Spansion, the current manufacturing strategy includes three sources for the MirrorBit ORNAND family of products at 65nm: Spansion 1 fab in Japan, which opened in September and is expected to generate revenue this quarter; and production at TSMC and at SMIC, both of which will follow sometime in 2008, with TSMC going first. Manufacturing at 45nm will start in 2008 at SP1, followed by as-yet-unannounced foundry production. Today, MirrorBit manufacturing is done with 90nm processes at Spansion’s Fab 25 in Austin (200mm) and at TSMC (300mm).

Not only does Cambou believe the company has a “massive” cost advantage with its triple-sourced strategy, he told WaferNEWS that competitors in the NOR space are generally using trailing-edge floating gate technology and are lagging behind with the use of charge-trapping technology. “We have ten years of experience with charge-trapping,” he said. “We started to work on it [charge-trapping] in 1998 and we have a strong IP portfolio.” Some industry experts believe that traditional floating gate NAND flash technology will encounter a serious charge storage problem at advanced nodes, starting at around 40nm, hence the anticipated move to charge-trapping.

Cambou noted that the company’s recent agreement to acquire Saifun Semiconductors Ltd. will further strengthen its portfolio. Under terms of the agreement, Saifun will be operated as a wholly owned subsidiary and drive Spansion’s technology licensing business. “We think that right now, the key leading NAND flash companies will be moving to technology that is similar to MirrorBit,” Cambou said, “so we have an opportunity to help that transition by licensing our technology


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