Report: Nanomemory begins to take shape

Chicago (IL) - In a white paper released Wednesday, market research firm Nanomarkets said that nanomemory is not science fiction anymore and is set to account for a major share of the total memory market by the end of the decade, especially in the mobility and pervasive computing sector.

Nanotechnology has been a buzz word in the financial and IT industry for several months. While major breakthroughs in bringing nanotech to the market are still rare, analysts at Nanomarkets believe that unlike other potential developments in nanoelectronics, such as quantum computing for example, nanomemory will soon generate significant revenues, reaching $3.1 billion in 2006.

A survey conducted by the company indicated that 28 percent of nano-engineered memory will have an effect on the market already in 2005 or 2006. A similar number said the take-off point would occur in 2007 or 2008. One of the first commercially available nano memories will an MRAM module manufactured by Motorola and due for delivery by the end of this year.

Experts at this time do not agree which technology can be considered as nanotech and which cannot. By definition of the US government, every structure smaller than 100 nm is nanotechnology - which means that certain processors from Intel, AMD and Transmeta already qualify as nano-engineered devices. Many analysts and manufactures however believe that this new approach cannot simply be broken down to only a scaling procedure but instead will have to introduce new building and material techniques.

Nanomarkets said that a key reason for the increasing demand for nanomemory is the fact that it is a "key enabling technology for mobile communications and computing along with portable consumer electronics." As applications that most needed nanomemory, respondents ranked mobile computing, cell phones and other handhelds, sensors, smart cards and "disposable products."

According to the research firm, it is unclear, which memory is likely to become the most successful technology. The survey revealed that the industry believes that MRAM, molecular memory, nanotube-based RAM (NRAM), MEMS-based memory as well as holographic memory are likely to become the key players of the market segment.

Nanomarkets said that it believes that MRAM will remain the largest technology segment of the nanomemory market throughout 2011 and reach yearly revenues of $12.9 billion by then. MRAM is estimated to account for 32.0 percent of total nanomemory revenues in 2006 and 19.7 percent in 2011, Nanomarkets said.