Architectural Perspective and Scalability of Phase Change Memory

Architectural Perspective and Scalability of Phase Change Memory

By Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence Thought Articles

The Global Phase Change Memory Market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 66.71% over the forecast period to reach a market size of US$12,450.978 million in 2026 from US$347.914 million in 2019. PCM, also known as PCRAM, is a kind of computer random-access memory (RAM) that stores data by changing the state of the matter from which the device is made. On a microscopic scale, the structure of PCM material may rapidly switch between amorphous and crystalline. It is a critical enabler technology for non-volatile electrical data storage on the nanometer scale. A PCM device is made up of two electrodes and a small active volume of phase-change material.

PCM memory is 500 to 1,000 times faster than standard flash memory. PCM technology may also provide unprecedented levels of cost-effective, high-volume, and high-density non-volatile storage.

phase change memory market

The rise in the automotive sector, the increasing number of smartphone shipments, environmental concerns regarding reducing greenhouse emissions, and the growing global trend towards energy-saving and sustainable development are the major driving factors for the market. In May 2020, IBM realised that the rising demands of operations depending on deep neural networks in the domains of image and speech recognition, gaming, and robotics need better efficiency and created a method that uses phase-change memory to execute code faster and cheaper. The company also addressed the disadvantage of PCMs generating computational errors owing to read and write conductance noise by introducing such noise during AI training sessions. Intel announced in October 2020 that it will sell its NAND division to SK Hynix, a South Korean memory technology company, for $9 billion.

However, the high cost of materials and production processes, as well as the hazardous nature of phase change materials, are likely to hinder the market expansion.

An Increase in Smartphone Shipments

According to an IEEE Communications Society tech blog post, the global smartphone market increased by 28.1 % year on year in the first quarter of 2021, reaching total sales of 351.1 million units. The year-over-year shipment growth was 25.5%. In the first three months of 2021, Samsung surpassed Apple, delivering 76.1 million units, up 29.2 % year on year, to take 22 % of the market share.  Apple followed with 46.5 % year on year growth to reach 56.4 million smartphones shipped in the quarter, comparable to 16 % of the market, with Xiaomi coming in the third position with 14 % after shipping 49.5 million units, up 78.3 % year on year.

According to the International Brand Equity Foundation, India exported 36 million smartphones in FY20, up from 17 million in FY19. The contribution of India to the global smartphone market rose from 9% in 2016 to 16% in 2019. According to the National Policy on Electronics 2019 (NPE 2019), a manufacturing target of 1 billion mobile phones is projected by 2025, with 600 million units for exports.

Micron announced in March 2021 that it will concentrate its investment on memory devices that use the Compute Express Link (CXL) and will discontinue the development of its 3D XPoint technology. The company stated that it aims to move efforts away from 3D XPoint memory products to CXL-enabled memory solutions. The increased shipping of smartphone units, combined with the introduction of innovative, sophisticated, and revolutionary solutions, is likely to fuel the growth of the Phase Change Memory market.

A Rise in the Automotive Sector Will Support the Market Growth

Electric cars will have a significant influence on the market in the coming years. According to the International Energy Agency, global sales of electric vehicles in 2019 were about 2.1 million. According to the International Council on Clean Transportation, global cumulative electric commercial car sales were estimated to reach 10 million in 2020, with electric vehicles accounting for a record-high 4.6 % of new commercial vehicle sales. Due to continued policy adoption and technological deployment, the number of high-volume electric commercial car models increased by 49 % in 2020, average battery pack cost decreased by 12 %, and public electric vehicle charger stock increased by 48 %. European countries such as France, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom are on a path to meet their 100% electric car sales share targets.

STMicroelectronics provided the first stellar advanced automotive microcontrollers for the next generation of sophisticated car electronics, delivering new levels of productivity and safety in June 2021. In October of the same year, STMicroelectronics disclosed further information about its revolutionary Stellar automotive microcontrollers (MCUs), demonstrating how the chips enable reliable and predictable execution of several independent real-time applications. ST and Bosch collaborated on the development of deterministic high-performance open-market MCUs that can host a variety of applications, including safety and security virtualization via HW capabilities. The adoption of advanced microcontrollers will drive the growth in the phase change memory market in the coming years.

High Cost of Material and Manufacturing Process

The switching time and inherent scalability of PRAM make it particularly desirable. Its temperature sensitivity is arguably its most prominent disadvantage, one that may need adjustments in the manufacturing processes of businesses that use the technology.

Asia-Pacific Region Is Expected to Have a Prominent Market Share

China is expected to lead the market due to being home to many smartphone brands as well as huge adoption rates of the electric car.

According to an IEEE Communications Society tech blog post, Xiaomi's growth rate reached 83%, making it one of the top five mobile phone brands with the highest market share growth rate. Xiaomi accounted for 17% of worldwide smartphone shipments in the second quarter of 2021, while Oppo and Vivo each accounted for 10%.

China has pledged to reach a peak in national CO2 emissions by 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. Truck and van manufacturers and business fleets have pledged to electrify their manufacturing and operations. While the trend toward zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles (ZE-HDVs) is still in its early stages, it is gaining traction. China is implementing its commercial vehicle New Energy Vehicle strategy to encourage the use of electric cars.

The European electric vehicle (EV) industry saw remarkable growth in 2020, with sales of commercial electric vehicles increasing by 143% over 2019. With strong sales in 2020, Europe surpassed China to become the world's largest EV market. This occurred during a period of significant disruption in the automotive market as a result of COVID-19. Although total new car sales in Europe decreased by 20%, the jump in EV sales increased the EV proportion to 11%.

Electronics such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems extensively use phase-change memory. The need for phase change memory in electronics is anticipated to rise throughout the forecast period due to rising domestic and global demand for electronics, as well as the shift of countries towards renewable energy.

The Coronavirus Pandemic Had a Negative Effect on the Phase Change Memory Market

COVID-19 had a negative influence on numerous universities and organisations throughout the world, halting research progress. The market for phase change memory was directly impacted by a drop in demand in end-user industries. However, as the economy improves, the demand for phase change memory is likely to rebound quickly.