While competitions are getting fierce in the memory device industry to develop next generation memory chips that show superior performances compared to the conventional memory devices such as flash memory and DRAM, patent applications on FRAM topped among applications in the field of memory devices.
PRAM is a memory device which writes and reads data through phase change memory technique which exploits the state change of phase changing material between highresistant amorphous state and lowresistant crystalline state.
According to the KIPO (commissioner: JungSik, Koh), 204 applications on PRAM have been filed in 2008, which has dipped slightly compared to the previous year due to the economic slowdown but still far surpassed other area of new memory chips such as FeRAM (20 cases), MRAM (53 cases) and ReRAM (66 cases).
This is due to the characteristics of PRAM which has both the merits of flash memory of maintaining data when power is shutdown and of DRAM of high speed operation. Also, since PRAM can be manufactured with high integration by using conventional facilities, companies consider PRAM as the most promising next generation memory device.
Most of the applications have been filed by domestic companies such as Hynix with 148 cases (72.5%), Samsung electronics with 37 cases (18.1%), Electric and research institute such as Telecommunications Research Institute with 9 cases (4.4%), while foreign companies such as Micron Technology have filed 10 cases (4.9%).
Samsung electronics and Hynyx, who lead the research of PRAM in Korea, have been focusing on obtaining basic technology through technical cooperation with Newmonics and Obonics respectively, who own a fundamental technology in the field. With the news of mass production of PRAM by Samsung electronics, PRAM is expected to be commercialized soon.
When PRAM is commercialized, flash memory devices, which are widely used in many IT products including MP3 players, cell phones and digital cameras, can be replaced with PRAM, further improving the performance of IT products. Considering the great world market of flash memory device, which is estimated to be worth over 20 billion dollars, the competition to develop PRAM among companies to preoccupy the market is expected to become fiercer, and the number of the filing of patent applications in the field increase continuously.