Ramtron Rolls Out New FRAM-enhanced Processor Companions

Ramtron International Corporation (Nasdaq: RMTR), a leading developer and supplier of non-volatile ferroelectric random access memory (FRAM) and integrated semiconductor products, has introduced the FM33x product family – a new line of FRAM-Enhanced(TM) Processor Companions with a high-speed serial peripheral interface (SPI). The FM33x family combines, in one small package, all the benefits of a non-volatile RAM with a comprehensive set of highly-integrated support and peripheral functions for processor-based designs.

Ramtron is launching the FM33x Processor Companion family with two products: the FM33256 and the FM3316, which are 3-volt devices with 256 kilobits and 16 kilobits of FRAM, respectively. This single-chip solution replaces discrete components and reduces cost and board space, supporting commonly-needed system functions in processor-based systems such as meters and automotive telematics applications.

“The FM33x family was enhanced to meet the design requirements of the most advanced metering and car navigation systems,” explains Mike Alwais, Vice President of Marketing at Ramtron. “Many of our metering and telematics customers have requested faster data collection capacity to support their need for higher data rates. This new integrated FRAM product family addresses their needs through a high-speed SPI bus that enables writes at maximum bus-speed.”

Ramtron's FM33256 and FM3316 Processor CompanionsAbout the FM33x family
The FM33x family incorporates a non-volatile FRAM memory with No Delay(TM) writes, virtually unlimited endurance and low power consumption. The devices also include a real-time clock/calendar/alarm (RTC), as well as processor companion features such as a programmable low-VDD reset, a programmable watchdog timer, a manual reset function, a non-volatile event counter, a lockable serial number, and a general-purpose comparator that can be used for early warning power-fail interrupts (NMI). The devices operate from 2.7 to 3.6 volts over the entire industrial temperature range (-40 degrees C to +85 degrees C).

FM33x features:

  • SPI Bus: Operates at up to 16MHz, providing high-performance serial communication to the host processor.
  • Processor Supervisor: Provides two functions to the host processor: detection of power supply fault conditions, and a watchdog timer to escape software lockup conditions.
  • Early Power-Fail Interrupt: A power fail comparator creates an NMI, warning the processor before the VDD drops out of specification. This is ideal for saving critical data to the FRAM.
  • Serial Number: A writeable, 64-bit non-volatile memory area that can be locked once the serial number is set.
  • RTC: A time-keeping device that can be battery- or capacitor-backed for permanently-powered operation. The RTC offers a software calibration feature for high accuracy, and an alarm.
  • Event Counter: A 16-bit non-volatile event counter with a programmable edge detector that can be used to log system intrusions (tamper events) and other events.
  • Backup Power: The RTC is intended to be permanently powered. When the primary system power fails, the voltage on the VDD pin will drop. When VDD is less than 2.5V, the RTC (and event counters) will switch to the backup power supply on VBAK. The backup source can be either a battery or a capacitor.
  • Trickle Charger: Facilitates capacitor backup. The VBAK pin can optionally provide a trickle charge current. Data is non-volatile so it won’t be lost if the capacitor fails.
  • Memory: 16 or 256Kb of true non-volatile RAM (not battery-backed). FRAM technology replaces SRAM and other non-volatile memories since it reads/writes at bus speed with 10 year data retention and effectively unlimited read/write endurance.

About Ramtron’s Processor Companion
The Processor Companion is a highly integrated FRAM-Enhanced(TM) system management solution that supports virtually any processor-based design. By integrating a non-volatile FRAM, individual system features are improved over discrete versions, creating a single-chip solution with superior bill of material cost and reduced board space.

Pricing and availability
Samples of the FM33x are currently available in a 14-pin SOIC RoHS-compliant package. Pricing in 10K quantities starts at $3.25 for the FM33256 and $2.25 for the FM3316.

About Ramtron
Ramtron International Corporation, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is a fabless semiconductor company that designs, develops and markets specialised semiconductor memory, microcontroller and integrated semiconductor solutions used in a wide range of product applications and markets worldwide. Ramtron pioneered the integration of ferroelectric materials into semiconductor products, which enabled the development of a new class of non-volatile memory products called ferroelectric random access memory (FRAM) products. Ramtron has shipped more than 150 million FRAM memory products to customers for use in automotive navigation and entertainment systems, digital electricity meters, multi-function printers, and RAID disk controllers, among others. FRAM products merge the advantages of multiple memory technologies into a single device that retains information without a power source, can read and write at high speeds, can be written to many times, and consumes low amounts of power. Additionally, Ramtron works with various leading-edge licensees and manufacturers to bring its technology to market.