Flash-EEPROMs (electrically erasable programmable read-only memory) are non-volatile memories (NVM) that according to many forecasts, will become one of the main technology drivers in the world of electronics. Flash-EEPROMs are well suited for stand-alone memories, as well as embedded memory applications. The number of European semiconductor manufactures providing NVM is, however, rather small. The worldwide NVM market is dominated by non-European companies. Therefore, innovative small or medium sized companies, with clear demand for (Flash-) EEPROMs, but with rather moderate order volumes, cannot find sufficient support from present NVM technology providers.
The objectives of the project were to:
- disseminate the know-how accumulated in European research institutes
- provide new, cost effective technologies that can lead to innovative design solutions
- minimize the dependence of European customers, system houses and design centers on non-European providers of NVM-Technology
- strengthen the position of European semiconductor manufacturers in the NVM-market for embedded applications.
A consortium was set up in order to transfer and validate a CMOS compatible Non Volatile Memory technology into an industrial manufacturing environment. The consortium consisted of three European partners, located in different countries: one Research Institute and two Industrial Partners. The Research Institute was the inventor and owner of the specific NVM cell, technology know-how and related patents. One of the industrial partners, the Semiconductor Manufacturer, acted as a site of the technology implementation, whereas the second one, a System House, acted as a customer providing a detailed specification of the architecture and the function of the demonstrator circuit.
The System House carried out part of the design of the demonstrator, including the analogue modules and tested and validated the final product. The digital modules library and Flash-EEPROM memory array was provided by the Semiconductor Manufacturer. The Semiconductor Manufacturer also supported the dissemination of the new technology by providing adequate design kits and technical support through its existing European and worldwide marketing offices to interested costumers.
The targeted NVM technology can now provide competitive new products aimed to the European and worldwide market of Flash-EEPROM Embedded Applications, in particular ASICs and Gate Arrays.