Spin currents are used to write information in magnetic random access memory (MRAM) devices by switching the magnetization direction of one of the ferromagnetic electrodes of a magnetic tunnel junction (MTJ) nanopillar. Different physical mechanisms of conversion of charge current to spin current can be used in two-terminal and three-terminal device geometries. In two-terminal devices, charge-to-spin conversion occurs by spin filtering in the MTJ's ferromagnetic electrodes and present day MRAM devices operate near the theoretically expected maximum charge-to-spin conversion efficiency. In three-terminal devices, spin-orbit interactions in a channel material can also be used to generate large spin currents. In this Perspective article, we discuss charge-to-spin conversion processes that can satisfy the requirements of MRAM technology. We emphasize the need to develop channel materials with larger charge-to-spin conversion efficiency - that can equal or exceed that produced by spin filtering - and spin currents with a spin polarization component perpendicular to the channel interface. This would enable high-performance devices based on sub-20 nm diameter perpendicularly magnetized MTJ nanopillars without need of a symmetry breaking field. We also discuss MRAM characteristics essential for CMOS integration. Finally, we identify critical research needs for charge-to-spin conversion measurements and metrics that can be used to optimize device channel materials and interface properties prior to full MTJ nanopillar device fabrication and characterization.