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University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships
University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships

Crossbar: Positioned to Change the Computer Memory Industry


Imagine a smart phone able to store 250 hours of HD video. A thumb drive that contains 250,000 songs. An iPod battery that can hold a charge for a week.

These capabilities—and more—will soon be available, thanks to a transformational technology known as RRAM (Resistive Random Access Memory) developed at the University of Michigan.

The seeds of this disruptive technology were sown in 2006, when U-M College of Engineering Professor Wei Lu and his research team created a new form of non-volatile memory capable of outperforming conventional flash drives in storage volume, durability and power requirements. Used in tablets, digital cameras, solid-state drives and mobile phones, nonvolatile memory stores information even when it’s powered down.

Dr. Lu worked with U-M Innovation Partnerships to patent his new discoveries and help to model a new startup, Crossbar. John Denniston, a partner at Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers (KPCB) and a member of U-M Innovation Partnerships’s National Advisory Board, took an interest in Crossbar, which led to KPCB’s first investment in a U-M startup.

Crossbar was launched the following year. Today, under the leadership of CEO George Minassian, the California-based company is exploring partnership opportunities with major semiconductor manufacturers.

“We continue to be excited about the disruptive potential of Crossbar,” says Denniston. “The company has made excellent progress since our initial investment, and is now poised to bring a much-needed solution to the memory markets.”

Crossbar’s revolutionary Resistive Random Access Memory (RRAM) technology promises to offer higher storage densities and faster speeds at lower prices than any devices currently available. Describing this as a watershed moment for the
nonvolatile memory industry, company CEO George Minassian notes that the startup has “achieved all the major technical
milestones that prove our RRAM technology is easy to manufacture and ready for commercialization.”

[source: U-M Innovation Partnerships 2013 Impact Report]