Utah Researchers Developing Nonvolatile RAM Technology

December 15, 1998

University of Utah researchers have announced a major breakthrough in the development of a new type of memory aimed at revolutionizing the computer industry and related fields.

Working under contract from Pageant Technologies (USA) Inc., U. researchers -- led by Electrical Engineering Associate Professor Larry Sadwick -- have developed a new class of magnetic-field sensors that will allow the future manufacturing of low-cost, high-volume, high-density memory devices and circuits.

The new memory cell, called a MAGRAM -- (short for "magnetic random access memory"), uses magnetic fields to store data.

Similar to conventional RAM memory devices, the MAGRAM should allow rapid, random access to information stored within it. However, unlike conventional RAM, the MAGRAM memory cell is nonvolatile -- that is, continuous power is not required to maintain the memory content. Even after the power source is removed, the information remains, giving MAGRAM the advantage of long-term data storage reliability.

With further development, Pageant believes this technology eventually will become standard among computers and other electronic devices that use memory. Among potential applications are cellular phones, pagers, palm PCs, digital clocks, microwaves, VCRs, answering machines, calculators and integrated circuits in vehicles.

"Think of everything that, when the power goes off, you lose the memory," says Stephen B. Fleming, president of Pageant, which will license the technology as it develops. "That doesn't happen with MAGRAM."

Once realized, the new technology should also offer the advantage of decreased power consumption in portable devices like laptop computers, cellular telephones and pagers. It also could be used to enhance the processing of Internet data. U. researchers are building 8-bit technology evaluation samples to be used for testing by prospective licensees.

Pageant Technologies Inc., is a wholly owned subsidiary of Avanticorp International, Inc.

Stephen Fleming, 505 471-3027, ext. 101, sfhfram@newmexico.com

Writer: Mark Saal, 801 581-7932, mark@unicomm.utah.edu

University of Utah

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