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Crossbar Inc. is the leader in RRAM technology, widely accepted as the front-runner to replace traditional Flash technology in future storage systems. Delivering terabyte storage on a postage stamp-sized chip, with power low enough for massive adoption throughout the Internet of Things, Crossbar RRAM is easy to tailor for a broad range of applications. From embedded memory on SOCs for wearables, to very high density SSDs for cloud data centers, Crossbar is ushering in a new era of storage innovation. For more information, visit

see also:- Crossbar RRAM overview

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who's who in SSD? - Crossbar

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor

Crossbar first appeared as a company of interest to the SSD market in August 2013 when it emerged from stealth mode and unveiled the prototype of a new 3D stackable non volatile RAM like technology called RRAM which it claimed "would deliver 20x faster write performance, 20x lower power consumption, and 10x the endurance at half the die size, compared to today's best-in-class NAND Flash memory."

I had heard similar claims to replace flash from many other companies in the alternative nvm market and listed them in an article - storage media contenders which threatened flash SSDs in the past decade. So I considered Crossbar to be just another company in that category. Some of these technologies have in fact been used in applications in which storage density is less important than some other attribute - such as environmental ruggedness - for example - and the ability to implement a fast non volatile memory in a small physical space - but they were a long way off being viable and able to replace most of the flash in any SSD at that time.

2 years later - in the summer of 2015 - Micron and Intel started preannouncing a new 3D ReRAM technology called Optane which they promised might ship in the next few years aimed at the memory channel SSD market.

So then many people in the industry started looking around and re-posing the fundamental question - how real is this stuff? And what percentage of these kinds of claims might be true?

That scepticism - remember - had been conditioned by 12 years of the alternative nvm market crying wolf and claiming in would replace flash real soon.

Well we're still a long way off flash being replaced everywhere. But the potential rewards of gambling in the enlarged SSD ecosystem with new risky memory technologies are much greater than they have been in the past. Because even the smaller niches and segments in the enterprise SSD universe are big enough to satisfy investors.

And in my opening article for 2015 - I said "All the systems in the market today are implementations of transient architectures which are pragmatically adapting legacy installations and infrastructure. And ...there are still many surprises ahead from SSD market in 2015 - which promises to be another momentous year for the SSD market."

In August 2015 in a paper - Versatile RRAM Technology and Applications (pdf) delivered at the Flash Memory Summit - Crossbar's cofounder Hagop Nazarian said that not only is his company's technology accessible to the fabless manufacturing model (as it uses standard CMOS processing) but - intriguingly - the discrimination window between the on and off states would improve as cell geometries were scaled to be smaller.

That's the opposite case to nand flash where the demand for stronger ECC to maintain data integrity increases as cells get smaller. The suggestion is that RRAM will be easy to manufacture - and (if it proves to be a reliable memory technology) might scale to similar densities (or beyond) to flash.

So in September 2015 - when Crossbar announced it had secured a $35 million Series D funding round - in a way that was similar to all those earlier nvm funding stories and acquisitions I'd read about before. But maybe - just maybe - the story will end differently this time.

See also:- flash and other nvms, VCs in SSDs, storage market research
Crossbar mentions in SSD market history

In September 2015 - Crossbar announced it has completed a $35 million Series D funding round bringing total investment to $85 million to date. Crossbar plans to use the funds to continue the commercial ramp of its game-changing non-volatile (NVM) memory technology.

In January 2017 - Crossbar announced it was sampling 8Mb ReRAM based on 40nm CMOS friendly technology.

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Crossbar demonstrates ReRAM AI accelerator chip
Editor:- May 14, 2018 - Crossbar today announced that it will demonstrate a test chip showing the capabilities of its ReRAM technology for AI in the form of a facial recognition accelerator at the Embedded Vision Summit next week in Santa Clara, California.

Sylvain Dubois, VP Marketing at Crossbar said - "The biggest challenge facing engineers for AI today is overcoming the memory speed and power bottleneck in the current architecture to get faster data access while lowering the energy cost. By enabling a new, memory-centric non-volatile architecture like ReRAM, the entire trained model or knowledge base can be on-chip, connected directly to the neural network with the potential to achieve massive energy savings and performance improvements, resulting in a greatly improved battery life and a better user experience."

Editor's comments:- It's a great idea for Crossbar to integrate the capabilities of their SoC compatible ReRAM technhologies into a demonstration accelerator like this as it cuts out a lot of guesses and the requirement to imagine what can be done with the new architectures so enabled.

Here's an example of this powerful business development idea from SSD history.

You all know (or have heard of) Fusion-io right?

They're the company(founded in December 2005) which transformed the enterprise server market from SSD deniers into born again PCIe SSD acceleration evangelists. Fusion-io was acquired for $1.1 billion in June 2014.

You might be surprised to know that despite its huge market impact Fusion-io's original business plan wasn't the one which they later followed.

After they became successful the founders told me their original idea had been to operate as a software and IP licensing company.

And they said that their prototype PCIe SSD cards - the ioDrives - had been intended simply to demonstrate the concept of what Fusion's software and architecture could do. The founders had expected that server makers would license the technology but build their own cards. However, when server customers saw what this acceleration technology could do for their own server sales (or those of competitors if they adopted it) they chose to buy cards instead. And that's how the PCIe SSD market got started.

It's possible that with the AI memory accelerator market we're going to see application specific products born out of demonstrators which are too good to stay in the labs. And that's a proposition which I also mentioned in my recently completed blog - are we ready for infinitely faster RAM?

where are we heading with memory intensive systems and software?
there's more to future change in SSD than DIMM wars

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