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Ramtron controls time with low energy, nonvolatile memory

17 Apr 2012

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Ramtron International Corp. has revealed a new low energy F-RAM memory that expands the company's capability to improve energy efficiency, access speed, and security. The device benefits metering, point-of-sale (POS), and other data-intensive logging applications with its ability to lower energy consumption, increase data integrity, and decrease product deployment and associated maintenance costs. The FM25e64 operates on energy efficient 1.5V or 1.8V power rails, offers low 20-microamps active current operation, and only requires about 20-microseconds to start up, write data, and shut down the memory.

The F-RAM memory technology inherently provides high endurance, fast single-cycle and symmetrical read/write speeds, low power consumption, as well as gamma radiation tolerance and electromagnetic immunity. "Energy consumption cannot be measured in volts and amperes alone," said Scott Emley, Ramtron's vice president of worldwide marketing. "The speed and frequency that a system accesses nonvolatile memory significantly impacts total energy consumption. In addition to offering native low power operation and low active current, the FM25e64 allows engineers to control the element time in the energy consumption equation with fast access speed and high frequency write capabilities to improve system performance with negligible energy consumption."

In utility metering applications, the FM25e64 allows the meter to write energy consumption and diagnostic information faster and 100- to 1000-times more frequently. Since the access time to memory is drastically reduced, the amount of time that a system's power-hungry processor can remain in sleep mode is significantly increased. F-RAM's fast access speed allows the meter to be saved instantly on power failure, ensuring that the meter does not lose consumption data when power is restored.

"Since energy meters are also vulnerable to hacking, smart meter developers are emboldened to protect meter data and ensure that a meter reliably and continuously measures energy consumption data over its life," Emley continued. "The electromagnetic immunity of the FM25e64 offers native protection from magnetic attack. The FM31T378 processor companion offer even greater security with built in tamper protection circuitry to count tamper events or interrupt the host processor in the event of a malicious attack. The tamper input can also be used to alert the power company and trigger a system shutdown that cuts off electricity," Emley added.

Samples of the FM25e64 are now available from Digi-Key, Mouser, and through other authorized distribution partners. Mass production is expected later this year with a suggested 10,000-unit resale price of $0.95.

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