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Freescale First to 'Yes, MRAM'?

Freescale Semiconductor is the first company to offer an advanced memory technology for commercial use.

The Austin, Texas, chip maker said today that it's the first to start volume production of 4 megabit Magnetoresistive Random Access Memory (MRAM) . IBM first developed the technology in the 1970s.

Although more expensive than more traditional SDRAM and other memory, Freescale  said the advent of MRAM offers dramatic advances in power consumption and system performance.

These features would be an asset to existing electronic products and potentially help in the creation of new kinds of products.

MRAM retains data even when the power is turned off and requires less electricity to store data bits. A PC properly enabled with MRAM would start up instantly.

"With the commercialization of MRAM, Freescale is the first-to-market with a technology of tremendous possibilities and profound implications," said Semico Research vice president Bob Merritt in a statement.

While other companies will undoubtedly join the MRAM party, they may take a very different path than Freescale, which said it has more than 100 patents at the foundation of its technology.

Freescale's 4 megabit MRAM product is fast, non-volatile  memory with unlimited endurance. This is a combination of characteristics the company said isn't available in any other individual semiconductor memory product.

Freescale combines magnetic materials with conventional silicon circuitry to deliver the speed of SRAM  with the non-volatility of Flash memory .

Freescale's first commercial MRAM product, the MR2A16A, is designed for a variety of commercial applications, such as networking, security, data storage, gaming and printers.

The company said the MR2A16A is engineered to be a reliable, economical, single-component replacement for battery-backed SRAM  units.

The device also could be used in cache buffers, configuration storage memories and other applications that require the speed, endurance and non-volatility of MRAM.

A Motorola spin-off, Freescale specializes in the design and manufacture of embedded semiconductors for the automotive, consumer, industrial, networking and wireless markets.