Infineon Welcomes New Devices to Fleet of Automotive Ferroelectric RAM

July 20, 2023 by Jake Hertz

Rising to meet the automotive sector’s need for a long memory lifetime and fast data logging, Infineon has introduced two new FRAM devices.

As the industry searches for new memory technologies that can offer non-volatility at high densities, ferroelectric RAM (FRAM) has emerged as a popular contender. Unlike other alternative memory technologies that are mostly confined to the realm of academia, FRAM has actually seen commercialization. 

Last year, Infineon brought the technology to market with the launch of its EXCELON family. This week, Infineon is further building out its FRAM portfolio with the expansion of EXCELON in the automotive sector.


Infineon has released two new FRAM

Infineon has released two new FRAM memory devices in 1 Mbit and 4 Mbit densities. Image used courtesy of Infineon

A Refresher on FRAM

Ferroelectric random-access memory (FRAM) is a type of non-volatile memory that combines the benefits of both RAM and ROM. Unlike traditional RAM, which loses its data when power is removed, FRAM retains its data, similar to read-only memory (ROM). This unique characteristic makes FRAM a highly sought-after solution in various applications where data persistence is crucial.

To achieve this functionality, FRAM operates on the principle of ferroelectricity, where the memory cells in FRAM consist of a ferroelectric layer sandwiched between two electrodes. This ferroelectric layer has a spontaneous polarization property, meaning it can orient itself in one of two directions when an electric field is applied. These two states represent the binary 0 and 1. Notably, the orientation remains even after the electric field is removed, thus making the memory non-volatile.


The construction of a FRAM cell

The construction of a FRAM cell. Image used courtesy of ResearchGate

A major benefit of FRAM over other non-volatile memories like Flash and EEPROM is its superior write performance. FRAM can write data at high speeds similar to those of RAM, making it significantly faster than Flash memory. This is particularly beneficial in applications that require frequent or rapid writes.

Another notable feature of FRAM is its high endurance. FRAM can endure virtually unlimited read/write cycles, up to trillions of cycles, far exceeding the endurance of Flash memory. This makes FRAM a reliable choice for applications that involve intensive data logging.


FRAM for Automotive

FRAM has many potential applications in the automotive space. One of the key advantages of FRAM in this industry is its fast write speed. Automotive systems often require real-time data logging of high-throughput sensors (like cameras). FRAM's ability to write data quickly and directly, without the need for a time-consuming erase cycle, ensures that critical data can be captured and stored instantly, even in the event of sudden power loss.

The virtually unlimited endurance of FRAM is another significant advantage for automotive systems, which are typically designed for long lifetimes. Specifically, the memory in these systems must endure a high number of read/write cycles without wearing out. With the ability to endure up to 10 trillion (1013) read/write cycles, FRAM is a robust and reliable memory solution for these applications.


Infineon Adds to Its EXCELON Automotive Offerings

This week, Infineon announced the expansion of its EXCELON FRAM family in the automotive sector. The company added two new, automotive-qualified products to the family: the CY15B201QN and CY15B204QN (datasheets linked).


Block diagram of the CY15B201QN

Block diagram of the CY15B201QN. Image used courtesy of Infineon

The CY15B201QN is a 1 Mbit FRAM device organized as 128K × 8, while the CY15B204QN is a 4-Mb solution, logically organized as 512K × 8. Both devices offer some notable specs, including support for 10 trillion read/write cycles, data retention of 121 years, and low power consumption down to 0.1 µA in hibernate mode. Additionally, both new devices are AEX-Q100 Grade 1 qualified, support a temperature range from -40°C to 125°C, and support a fast SPI interface for communication.

With these new devices, Infineon hopes to offer a memory solution that can support the automotive sector’s unique need for lifetime and fast data logging.