These MCUs, which ST claims are a worldwide first for ePCM, will target powertrain systems, advanced and secure gateways, safety/ADAS applications, and Vehicle Electrification.
With more demanding automotive applications, constraints on processing power, power consumption mitigation, and larger memory requirements are pushing for new automotive MCU architectures. One of the most challenging demands is for larger embedded memories as firmware complexity and size increase dramatically.
ePCM provides a solution for automotive applications that require more processing power, lower power consumption, larger memory, meet automotive requirements for AEC-Q100 Grade 0, and operate at temperature up to +165°C. ST’s ePCM technology also provides firmware/data retention through high-temperature soldering reflow processes and is immune to radiation.
The company presented a paper at IEDM2018 detailing the architecture and performance benchmarks of the technology, which is based on 28nm FD-SOI with embedded Phase-Change Memory (ePCM). The paper provided an update on the architecture and performance of a 16Mb ePCM array for a 28nm FD-SOI automotive MCU.
Phase-Change Memory (PCM) is made using a Germanium Antimony Tellurium (GST) alloy and takes advantage of rapid heat-controlled changes in the material’s physical property between amorphous and crystalline states. These states, which correspond to logic 0 and 1, are electrically differentiated by high resistance in the amorphous state (logic 0) and low resistance in the crystalline state (logic 1). Unlike Flash-based memories that require at least a byte- or sector-erase cycle before reprogramming, PCM technology offers single-bit alterability, which simplifies software handling of data storage and ST’s implementation benefits from patented technology related to the memory cell and to the GST alloy to support high-temperature data retention.