Barcelona, august 17, 2015.- According to information from the business magazine Forbes, Intel and Micron announced a new memory chip technology chips that’s purported to be 1000 times faster than the NAND flash memory found in most smartphones and tablets.
The technology, which they’re calling 3D XPoint, also has 1000 times higher endurance — it will last far longer — and is 100 times denser, hence will store more data, than conventional memory storage. It’s the first new type of memory technology to come along in more than 25 years, the companies said. The technology is intended to give processors faster access to giant sets of data on a variety of computing devices. “It is fundamental game changer that will enable companies to do new things with it,” said Rob Crooke, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group, at a San Francisco event Tuesday morning. “It will enable us to scale computing even further. When we scale processing performance, memory and data can scale with it.”
Although Intel and Micron don’t entirely know how others could use this new memory technology, they offered a few ideas. In gaming, graphics are rendered in real time, and every so often, the game needs to load a new set of images. Using the 3D XPoint memory, all that data needed for processing graphics could be accessed much faster and loading screens could be eliminated.
Pattern recognition also could get a big boost, allowing applications like biometric sensors to handle more data more quickly. An application like Siri could do more processing on the iPhone rather than having to send data back and forth to a data center. In medicine, the new memory technology could bring real-time gene sequencing to see if, for example, a patient’s cancer has a genetic mutation. Crooke said 3D XPoint could be used in conjunction with NAND flash memory chips. Just adding the new memory technology will bump up speeds a 1000 times. “3D NAND will continue to exist as the densest thing, but this new technology adds new layer in the memory hierarchy,” said Crooke. “It’s a new class of memory chip between memory and storage.” 3D XPoint isn’t as fast as dynamic random access memory (DRAM), but unlike DRAM, it will be able to hold onto data after a device is powered off. Intel and Micron have been working together since 2006 in the NAND memory business. Research into the 3D XPoint technology began back in 2010.
“This is something that many people thought was impossible. Many people gave up trying to accomplish this,” said Crooke. “It takes the power of companies like Micron and Intel and sustained investment to accomplish something others thought impossible.
The memory business is a rare bright spot for Intel, whose core chip business has been struggling. The chipmaking giant doesn’t break out its NAND revenue, but it said recently that the business is growing 40% annually.
Intel and Micron already have manufacturing facilities in Lehi, Utah to produce the chips, which they expect to start delivering to customers later this year. The technology could be in products next year. “It get memory much closer to the processor,” said Micron CEO Mark Durcan. “It opens up the opportunity to do an amazing set of things that we couldn’t previously do. We don’t know everything it’s going to be used for yet.”
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