Friday, April 27, 2012

Adesto Technologies - a memresistor startup

Adesto Technologies was one of the companies mentioned in EETimes "Silicon 60" list of notable emerging startups in semiconductor technology. The company was founded in 2006 and is based on a form of memory resistor technology called CBRAM which is typically formed from an ion conducting chalcogenide glass. The company appears to be focusing on CBRAM as a replacement or supplement for DRAM and flash memory.


1) The management team has decades of semiconductor industry experience and the company has strong VC backing.


1)  The core technology is based on patents non-exclusively licensed from Axon Technology and acquired from Qimonda. There are very few home grown patents from Adestos (currently 7 US issued) and these patents do not appear broad enough to enable an effective IP licensing model for revenue. In comparison Micron Technology, which has also licensed the basic patents of Axon Technology, currently has 371 patent in the area of memory resistance technology with 124 patents focusing on forms of CBRAM.

2)  If Adesto attempts to produce CBRAM products on their own they will likely have to take several licenses from other companies holding CBRAM patents (Micron, Infineon) as well as other companies holding broad patents in memory resistance (Samsung, Macronix, Toshiba, Sharp, HP, Unity Semiconductor, etc.) This may severely limit return on investment and a high probability of infringement lawsuits exist given the large diversity of patent holders.

3)  Chalcogenide materials are more difficult to integrate into semiconductor fabs than metal oxides ReRAM developed by other companies (i.e. Samsung, Sharp, Unity Semiconductor) or amorphous silicon ReRAM independently developed by Infineon and Crossbar, Inc.

4) 3D stacking solutions are being developed for DRAM which means that Adesto will have to not only compete with other ReRAM companies but compete with other companies producing 3D DRAM.

A more complete breakdown of the business landscape of memory resistor electronics is available on my wordpress account (link).