Everspin first to ship ST-MRAM, claims 500x faster than SSDs

By on November 13, 2012, 3:00 PM

Arizona-based Everspin Technologies announced yesterday (pdf) that it has become the world's first MRAM supplier, shipping its own ST-MRAM (Spin-Torque Magnetoresistive Random Access Memory) chips to select customers. The non-volatile storage medium is said to be 500 times faster than current SSDs, but also 50 times the price.

In terms of performance, ST-MRAM's specs look impressive: 1.6 billion IOPS, "up to" 3.2 GB/s of bandwidth and latency measured in nanoseconds. By comparison, the 512GB OCZ Vertex 4 offers only 120,000 IOPS, around 550MB/s throughput and latency more comfortably enumerated in microseconds than nanoseconds.

It's important to temper your excitement though -- ST-MRAM has some definite shortcomings. Despite some promise as a potential NAND-based SSD usurper, Everspin isn't pitching the technology as a replacement for but rather a supplement to SSDs.

This is likely due in part to its prohibitive cost barrier. ComputerWorld says ST-MRAM is expected to be about 50 times more expensive than current flash offerings, but that's often how new technologies get started. Remember when SSDs cost thousands of dollars? Instead of $42,000 14GB SSDs though, we now have 128GB models that are practically being given away for $60-$70. Perhaps we can expect the same with MRAM over the next decade? Time will tell.

The other reason ST-MRAM may not be an ideal stand-in for SSDs just yet are its high power requirements. According to Everspin, the 64GB NAND chips commonly found in SSDs use about 80mW of power. Compare that to the 400mW required to fuel just a 1GB ST-MRAM chip and it's clear there's some progress to make before ST-MRAM can become a mainstream alternative for today's flash storage.




User Comments: 12

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Win7Dev said:

I'll gladly take a 50W SSD if it has data rates of 3Gb/s. We already have 1.5Kw PSUs so I don't see the problem.

2 people like this | Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

The Vertex 4 is not bandwidth limited (in sequential read/write) by the SSD tech. It is bandwidth limited by SATA 3 so while the IOPS is perhaps a valid comparison, peak bandwidth is not. Same for this new tech. To me this just emphasises the fact that serial bus interface standards are snooze-slow while the storage tech is ramping up at incredible rates.

Also Revodrive 3 X2's read speed is 1500MB/s and 1200+MB/s write for around 50-75% more than a Vertex 4 per GB. Bit better bang for buck... for the moment!

1 person liked this | VitalyT VitalyT said:

It's all just marketing nonsense. We will know the truth after a few more manufacturers surface up.

"500 times faster" doesn't go along well with just "up to 3.2GB/s", which is just 6 times faster than today's regular SSD-s, while PCI ones go even beyond that. I didn't think IOPS alone would translate into that much performance difference.

Perhaps we can expect the same with MRAM over the next decade

That's pessimistic. I would give it 3 years at most, if it is here to stay at all.

1 person liked this | captainawesome captainawesome said:

Sounds like a no go. But I agree that the SATA interface is horribly lacking in every way. Change to optical and give us 1tbps throughput

Guest said:

It's only as fast as the slowest componet in the chain.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Nowadays, we often see SSD being used as a cache to improve HDD.. Maybe with this, we can use ST-MRAM to cache our SSD :D

TJGeezer said:

Maybe we'll see these things used in the next supercomputer, sucking up several cities' worth of power to offer faster answers to bigger theoretical questions. Gonna stop before I say the "S" word.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Sounds like a no go. But I agree that the SATA interface is horribly lacking in every way. Change to optical and give us 1tbps throughput

Yeah that was the hope for Thunderbolt! Early days I guess!

KbloodyK KbloodyK said:

Once this is improved upon, st mram is going to be the new thing!

can't wait until this takes over and normal SSD drop in price!

1 person liked this | Guest said:

>Once this is improved upon, st mram is going to be the new thing!

>can't wait until this takes over and normal SSD drop in price!

Or just another completely different new technology will come along and overtake both of these.

Anyway, EverSpin is such a cool name...That should totally be a new name for department of public relations

Guest said:

These chips use the DDR3 interface, it's 3.2 GB/s or 25.6 Gb/s. That's not for the device but for the MRAM stick, a single channel, that could be where your system memory is now. SSDs may have up to 600 MB/s transfer speed on SATA 3. Using 4 ram channels would give up to 96 GB/s available bandwidth to PC3-24000 DDR3 devices. But putting 4 sticks of MRAM into a DDR3 system would get you non-volatile memory at 12.8 GB/s with a 256 MB capacity today vs 600 MB/s per SATA channel. Even with 10 SATA channels that's only half the speed of the MRAM at 4 channels in current computers.

captainawesome captainawesome said:

These chips use the DDR3 interface, it's 3.2 GB/s or 25.6 Gb/s. That's not for the device but for the MRAM stick, a single channel, that could be where your system memory is now. SSDs may have up to 600 MB/s transfer speed on SATA 3. Using 4 ram channels would give up to 96 GB/s available bandwidth to PC3-24000 DDR3 devices. But putting 4 sticks of MRAM into a DDR3 system would get you non-volatile memory at 12.8 GB/s with a 256 MB capacity today vs 600 MB/s per SATA channel. Even with 10 SATA channels that's only half the speed of the MRAM at 4 channels in current computers.

Guys I think we just got schooled

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