During Micron’s (MU) most recent blowout quarter that was reported just 8 days ago, Micron CEO Sanjay Mehrotra stated that they are developing a “new custom persistent memory solution for a hyperscale company.”
My guess is that this new chip is not a DRAM/NAND-based JEDEC standard chip or else this would’ve been publicly shared by many companies.
There are a couple of different things that come to mind: NVDIMM-N (DRAM with a flash-based backup in case of power loss), NVDIMM-F (Flash memory that is block addressable), and NVDIMM-P (Both DRAM and Flash addressable).
I believe that only Micron can supply this specific chip, and competitors such as SK Hynix and Samsung are unable to.
At the hyperscale level, supply chain diversity is critical as these companies cannot afford to halt their business operations due to procuring parts. In addition, if other suppliers could supply this technology, customers would have a backup supplier, but I don’t believe this is the case as we are only hearing about this via Micron.
This kind of venture is somewhat rare, but we have seen it before with Micron being the sole supplier of GDDR5X in the Pascal graphics cards until SK Hynix could ramp up their production.
What could the new memory be?
Looking back to the flash memory summit in 2015, Micron talked about new memory technology. “New Memory A” is likely not the persistent memory chip due to the volatility of chip A. This chip was probably canceled since we haven’t seen new volatile memory technology since DRAM.
New Memory B is likely 3D XPoint since it matches the Flash Summit slide on 3DXpoint. This is also not the persistent memory chip since Micron mentioned XPoint separately alongside “A New Emerging Memory.”
In later roadmaps, 3D Xpoint is mentioned separately alongside “New Emerging Memory.” I believe that the persistent memory solution in development is the “emerging memory.”
Natero NRAM is the Candidate for Persistent Memory Solution:
NRAM is a persistent memory technology that was originally developed by Lockheed Martin and used in aerospace engineering (most notably the Hubble Telescope). Nantero later took over the NRAM technology in order to move it into less exotic applications
Fujistu and Samsung are already licensing this technology, but I believe Micron is also licensing NRAM and developing their own spin-off of the technology, which is marketed as their “custom persistent memory solution.”
Disclaimer: The author has a Long position in MU. This article is intended for informational and entertainment use only, and should not be construed as professional investment advice.