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New super-energy efficient non-volatile memory manufacturing – bringing Europe back on the semiconductor track

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - LAST CHANCE (New super-energy efficient non-volatile memory manufacturing – bringing Europe back on the semiconductor track)

Reporting period: 2014-10-01 to 2015-02-28

The overall objective of LAST CHANCE is to map out the global market and technical specifications for new non-volatile static random-access memory products (nvSRAM) and systems (system on chip, embedded systems) in a feasibility study, including a business plan for the market introduction. Anvo-Systems-Dresden GmbH, as a fabless company, will prepare an innovative SONOS-module with 90nm-technology for SOC solutions with extremely low power non-volatile memory cells. This ground-breaking solution will enable customers to integrate low power non-volatile memory into SOC and dedicated stand-alone solutions at competitive prices. Thus, the micro-electronics industry in Europe, comprising research-intensive SME, fabless and producing companies receive competitive SOC solutions for new product innovation in order to increase their own competitiveness. The main objectives of this SME Instrument Phase 1 project were:

a. Assessment and prioritization of technical specifications for process integration at the production line according to customer needs and grade of integration
b. Assessment and prioritization of tasks for production robustness of the new nvSRAM products
c. Prove of economic viability focusing on market trends and development of a licensing and IP strategy
d. Elaboration of a business plan including lead products, ROI, risk assessment and financing mode

In the feasibility study ANV explored technical aspects related to „readiness for production“ and „readiness for market“, and economic aspects with respect to company and market perspectives. Based on the results of the technical assessment and the final business plan in phase 1, ANV will prepare the transfer to large scale production line for a range of standard and SOC products with the goal to introduce first products to the market in phase 2. The SME Instrument Phase 1 of the project has been finished after 5 months by the end of February 2015. All four tasks have been executed according to the Grant Agreement.
During the previous technical development in E³NVM project (part of Cool Silicon cluster) solutions for technical challenges could be established or the next development steps for optimization has been agreed. Potential technical risks for the project have been evaluated and an elimination strategy is in place. All business related analysis and calculations have confirmed the commercial feasibility of the project. The overall conclusion is that the business idea is unchanged and Anvo-Systems Dresden GmbH is eager to continue the project. For financing we will apply for SME Instrument Phase 2 funding.
Based on the 4/16Mbit nvSRAM demonstrator as a result of our previous R&D project „Cool E³NVM“, a feasibility study and business plan have been developed in this SME Instrument Phase 1 project to setup the large scale production capability of a 90nm CMOS technology with integrated non-volatile memory SONOS (SiliconOxideNitrideOxideSilicon) module for extremely energy efficient non-volatile data storage and take first steps towards the market introduction of standard nvSRAM products, System-on-Chip (SOC) solutions and IPs with extremely low power non-volatile memory cells. This is a ground-breaking approach, merging the advanced but dissimilar technologies ‘Logic’, ‘DRAM ’, and ‘FLASH’ in one cost-effective solution.

With a successful implementation of the nv SRAM technology with the support of funding form the SME instrument Phase 2, Anvo-Systems Dresden GmbH will enable target users to integrate high speed, low power non-volatile memory into SOC and dedicated stand-alone solutions at competitive cost structures. Main fields of application will be industrial drive and motion control, industrial computing, smart metering and smart grid, server and RAID systems. Thus, the micro-electronics industry in Europe, comprising research-intensive SME, fabless and manufacturing companies receive access to competitive non-volatile solutions for new product innovation. Based on the market size an European market potential for the project results will be in the range of € 100 million over the first 5 years after market introduction. A significant part of Anvo-Systems Dresden GmbH‘s future revenue growth will be based on the final outcome of this project.

According to the Grant Agreement for SME Instrument Phase 1 of the project “Last Chance” ANV (Anvo-Systems Dresden GmbH) has realised the following tasks during Phase 1:

• Market and Competition analysis
• Target applications and customers research
• Calculation of the business case including financing options
• Risk evaluation including patent search
• Setup project plan including subcontractors
• Status of technology and product including characterization and failure analysis
The results of phase 1 are very encouraging to move the technology towards a TRL 8. Our subcontractors will remain and support us in the further development to achieve technology and production readiness. Customer feedback helped us in fine-tuning the technical parameters according to the different market segments. Lead customers will be engaged in the next development phase. According to recent market studies, the embedded nv memory market has a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of ~12%, where programmable logic will grow with ~31%. Despite the increasing importance and value of embedded NVSM, even nvSRAM standard products will raise demand with CAGR of ~7% with a chance for long term growth and profitability of all involved actors.

The product portfolio and application fields at customer side are large. ANV has chosen the industrial and communication market segments as core market for the introduction of the new nvSRAM products, specifically targeting the following applications:
• Industrial drive and motion control
• Industrial computing
• Smart metering and smart grid
• Server and RAID systems

The innovative solution has the potential for high competitiveness for SME’s. The market segmentation is widely distributed, so that a part of the market will follow the “Memory Commodization Track” and another part “Memory De-Commodization Track” – the playground for SME’s. Investing in nvSRAM development and technology is a highly profitable business.
The economic impact and company growth perspectives of this project for ANV are very large and a valuable investment for future product developments. The vision of ANV is to become market leader for super-energy-efficient non-volatile system solutions on the European market, with the ambition for global expansion. The strategic objective is to be an innovation champion in the field of embedded nvSRAM solutions. The project is a logical consequence from the current production of nvSRAM with smaller capacity and the recent R&D activities.
Cool E³NVM multi-project demonstrator wafer (magnified nvSRAM demonstrator chips)