Honeywell and Motorola have signed a technology transfer and licensing agreement for Motorola to provide Honeywell access to its magneto-resistive random access memory (MRAM) non-volatile memory chip technology.
Honeywell plans to incorporate Motorola’s MRAM memory elements with its radiation-hardened silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology to produce the first memory chip capable of providing data stability in the harsh operating environments of space for satellite and military applications.
Honeywell and Motorola collaborated with DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) in the initial research and development of MRAM.
According to Honeywell, RAM used in space and military systems is susceptible to the bursts of high or low amounts of radiation that interrupt power, requiring auxiliary systems to prevent data corruption and loss.
By contrast, MRAM stores data through a magnetic cell structure rather than through transistor cells, eliminating the need for the auxiliary systems that add weight, require storage and are often less reliable.
MRAM is also said to offer exceptional speed, memory and the integration of multiple memory options on the same chip. For computers, memory reloads information into ‘local memory’ from mass storage like a hard disk drive when power is turned on. MRAM allows programs and data to remain in local memory even when the computer is turned off, which reduces the load time when powered up.
SOI technology is similar to a standard semiconductor, with the added advantage of its insulator layers. It is currently used to fabricate Honeywell’s radiation-hardened RAM and application specific integrated circuit components for space and in operating environments where radiation exposure may cause memory failure.