Nantero raises another $21 million to commercialize nanotube memory

Nantero Inc., the nanotechnology company developing next-generation memory using carbon nanotubes, today announced the closing of an over $21 million financing round. The lead investor in the round was Globespan Capital Partners and also included participation from both new and existing strategic and financial investors. Nantero currently has more than a dozen partners and customers in the consumer electronics, enterprise systems, and semiconductor industries actively working on NRAM®. The new funding will enable the company to support these partners in bringing multiple products into the market, while also enabling new customers to begin development. This financing round brings the total invested in Nantero to date to over $110 million.

“This round enables Nantero to accelerate its pace in product development, especially of its multi-gigabyte DDR4-compatible memory product,” said David Poltack, Managing Director, Globespan Capital Partners. “Nantero has multiple industry-leading customers who would like to receive NRAM even sooner. The fact that several of these customers, as well as key partners in the ecosystem, have decided to also invest in Nantero is a strong sign of confidence given how well they know Nantero and its product from years of working together.”

“The customer traction we’ve achieved at Nantero has been overwhelming, as evidenced by our recent announcement that NRAM had been selected by both Fujitsu Semiconductor and Mie Fujitsu Semiconductor,” said Greg Schmergel, Co-Founder & CEO of Nantero. “With this additional funding, we will be able to help these existing customers speed their time to market while also supporting the many other companies that have approached us about using Nantero NRAM in their next generation products.”

Nantero, Fujitsu Semiconductor and Mie Fujitsu Semiconductor announced in August, 2016 an agreement for Fujitsu and Mie Fujtisu to license Nantero’s technology for NRAM, non-volatile RAM using carbon nanotubes, and to conduct joint development towards releasing a product based on 55-nm process technology.

Three companies are aiming to develop a product using NRAM non-volatile RAM that achieves several 1000 times faster rewrites and many thousands of times more rewrite cycles than embedded flash memory, making it potentially capable of replacing DRAM with non-volatile memory.

Fujitsu Semiconductor plans to develop an NRAM-embedded custom LSI product by the end of 2018, with the goal of expanding the product line-up into stand-alone NRAM product after that. Mie Fujitsu Semiconductor, which is a pure-play foundry, plans to offer NRAM-based technology to its foundry customers.

Comment from Masato Matsumiya, System Memory VP, Fujitsu Semiconductor “Non-volatile memory using Nantero’s carbon-nanotube technology is a marked advance beyond conventional technology. Fujitsu Semiconductor has been designing and producing FRAM, a type of non-volatile RAM, since the late 90s, and is one of the few companies to have integrated FRAM design and production capabilities. We will be able to build on our experience and skill in this field to develop and produce NRAM as well. The combination of Nantero’s technology with our design and production capabilities promises to meet the longstanding needs of our customers for non-volatile memory that is higher density, faster, more energy efficiency, and with a higher rewrite cycle.”

Nantero’s NRAM technology is based on carbon nanotubes and allows for non-volatile memory with high density and random access, promising to expand Mie Fujitsu Semiconductor’s line of embedded non-volatile memory products, which are a major focus of our business.

They are working with us on productization for multiple markets.  NRAM technology, with its combination of nonvolatility, high speed and high density, is uniquely positioned to allow for the continued evolution of memory beyond the projected limits and capabilities of classical technologies.

The computer memory market is about $85 billion per year
Embedded memory is about $10 billion per year
DRAM is $45 billion per year
Flash is about $30 billion per year

Nantero is looking to eventually get to half the price of DRAM
The memory is already about the same speed as DRAM and 1000 times faster than flash
They will use multi-level cells for higher density
Eventually after dominating the computer memory they will also be able to develop carbon nanotube transistors for computer logic.

Carbon nanotube memory will also be able to get down to 5 nanometer width sizes.
They will be able to extend computer performance improvement by 20 years.

The memory is at 1 volt and lasts for 100 billion cycles.

The nonvolatile nature of the memory (no energy needed to keep memory) and months of standby time will mean this memory will be perfect for enabling the internet of things and the vision of trillions of sensors

Previously in 2015, Nextbigfuture had technical details.

In 2015, Nextbigfuture interviewed Nantero CEO Greg Schmergel

* Nantero NRAM is DDR4 compatible
* two top foundries are working with them
* they have a staff of 55 people
* they want to be the ARM of computer memory (ARM successfully licensed chip designs)
* multi-gigabyte designs should be complete in mid-2016 and released as products in mid-2017
* there is 10 thousand times resistance between on andoff states. This will allow for multiple resistant state memory for higher density and lower costs
* there is the potential for carbon nanotube logic in the future

How the carbon nanotubes are used and manipulated ?

* raw carbon nanotubes are obtained from suppliers
* the carbon nanotubes are placed into a pure water solution (no chlorination)
* they are purified in water (iron and other contaminants is removed, have to get to parts per billion purity.
* package in industry bottles
* they are deposited onto chips using spin coating to get a 40 nanometer layer
* hundreds of carbon nanotube connect each pair of electrodes.

Nantero’s NRAM: The Future of Memory

The availability of a new generation of memory that is 100s of times faster than NAND, can deliver terabits of storage capacity, and consumes very little power, has the potential to change the future of electronics. Nantero’s NRAM has all of these breakthrough characteristics. Targeting both the embedded and standalone memory markets, Nantero is already licensing its NRAM IP to major chip manufacturers, foundries and electronics companies around the world.

Targeting a wide range of markets such as consumer electronics, mobile computing, wearables, Internet of Things, enterprise storage, government/military, space, and automotive, Nantero’s NRAM delivers major advantages over other memory technologies. These include:

* CMOS Compatible: Works in standard CMOS fabs with no new equipment needed
* Limitless Scalability: Designed to scale below 5nm in the future
* High-Endurance: Proven to operate for orders of magnitude more cycles than flash
* Faster Read and Write: Same as DRAM, 100s of times faster than NAND
* High Reliability: will retain memory for over 1,000 years at 85 degrees Celsius or more than 10 years at 300 degrees Celsius
* Low Power: Essentially zero in standby mode, 160x lower write energy per bit than NAND
* Low Cost: Simple structure, can be 3D multi-layer and multi-level cell (MLC)

Competing future memory

* better versions of flash and DRAM
* memristor memory (HP and others) [Delayed]
* high density MRAM