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A History of Innovation and Leadership

A History of Innovation and Leadership

My name is Dean Klein and I’m a digital dinosaur! I realized this the other day when I turned in some of my old computer gear to be recycled and it was older than the young man who was checking it in! Anyway, I’ve seen a lot in my 40+ years as an electrical engineer in what has to have been the most fast-paced period of engineering advancement the world has ever seen. This is a period that named “Moore’s Law” and then ran it into obsolescence. It’s a period of unprecedented advancements that has set a pace for product development that is showing no signs of slowing, where most all of these products are dependent, one way or another, on the stuff we make at Micron: Memory. Sometimes you might wonder if the past is any predictor of the future. Absolutely! But pondering that question led some of us down a path of looking back to reflect on the history of innovation we’ve left in our wake as we set new courses for the future.

So I’m excited to present the Micron History of Innovation timeline which highlights just a few of the major innovations that have distinguished Micron over our 39-year history. You might be familiar with many of these innovations, and some you probably would expect from a leading memory company. But there are many innovations that occurred behind the scenes which have silently separated Micron from its competitors. 

Take testers as an example. It’s one thing to test a digital logic circuit, but it’s a different beast to test memory. Compared to memory, a digital logic chip (a CPU, for example) has a lot of “white space”, meaning it’s less dense. Sure, you hear about high-end processor chips that have one or even two billion transistors on a chip. But memory devices pack the silicon with memory bits, with a single DRAM having over 8 billion transistors and a single NAND blowing that away with over 100 billion transistors. Yet every single memory bit needs to be fully tested and exercised before it reaches our customers. This complexity of silicon is what makes our innovative Mongoose testers so important! It’s a tester that is built specifically by Micron for Micron memory, giving Micron cost, accuracy and performance advantages.

Mongoose DRAM Tester
Micron’s Mongoose DRAM Tester

Or look at the 6F2 memory cell. When an entire industry was happily building 8F2 memory cells, Micron’s innovators came up with a new design that could shrink the memory cell to allow about 25% more bits to be built on a single silicon wafer. This is innovation driving new levels of efficiency.

Thirty-eight-plus years of sustained innovation tells a strong story. We didn’t just innovate, then stop. We innovated over and over again. And we keep on innovating. It’s in our blood and it’s in our DNA. It’s who Micron is. Which is why when you think of memory innovation you have to think Micron!

Be sure to check out our History of Innovation timeline and give us feedback! We’d love to know which innovations were most meaningful to you and how you’ll use memory moving forward.

About Our Blogger

Dean Klein

Dean Klein is Vice President of Memory System Development at Micron Technology. Mr. Klein joined Micron in January 1999, after having held several leadership positions at Micron Electronics, Inc., including Executive Vice President of Product Development and Chief Technical Officer. He also co-founded and served as President of PC Tech, Inc., previously a wholly-owned subsidiary of Micron Electronics, Inc., from its inception in 1984. Mr. Klein’s current responsibilities as Vice President of Memory System Development focus on developing memory technologies and capabilities.

Mr. Klein earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering and a Master of Electrical Engineering from the University of Minnesota, and he holds over 220 patents in the areas of computer architecture and electrical engineering. He has a passion for math and science education and is a mentor to the FIRST Robotics team (www.FIRSTInspires.org) in the Meridian, Idaho school district.

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