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New Class of Memory Pioneered by Intel and Micron

Touted as “a major breakthrough in memory process technology,” the latest development from Intel and Micron is already making headlines across the globe. Known as 3D Xpoint, the newly introduced class of memory is purportedly 1,000 times quicker and more durable than the NAND storage seen in today’s mobile devices and SSDs and 10 times denser than DRAM chips that are currently seen in computers of today. Moreover, 3D Xpoint, which is pronounced 3D Crosspoint, is the first new memory architecture introduced since Toshiba pioneered NAND memory in 1989.

In technical terms, 3d Xpoint memory technology provides a non-volatile, high-performance and high-capacity solution for storing data. Not only is the memory stable enough to support long-term data retention, but it is fast enough to compete, and perhaps even replace, DRAM technology. While the first 3D Xpoint chips boast 128 GB of capacity, future chips will feature larger capacities.

3D Xpoint technology utilizes a cross point array framework, a method that involves billions of individual memory storage cells that are written or read according to the voltage that is sent to internal selectors. This eliminates physical transistors while simultaneously accommodating greater storage capacities.

Mark Adams, Micron’s current president, spoke about some of the challenges faced when designing solutions for the modern age of computing. He was quoted as saying: “One of the most significant hurdles in modern computing is the time it takes the processor to reach data on long-term storage. This new class of non-volatile memory is a revolutionary technology that allows for quick access to enormous data sets and enables entirely new applications.”

The developers of 3D Xpoint technology cited two real-world examples of the solution’s usefulness. Within the retail sector, 3D Xpoint will be able to recognize fraud quicker and more reliability than past systems. Consumers will be able to benefit from faster social networking and increased gaming performance.

Bill Leszinske, vice president of strategic planning and business development with Intel’s Non-Volatile Solutions Group, spoke specifically about the primary audiences of 3D Xpoint technology in its current state. He was quoted as saying: “One is cloud service providers with data centers who understand the workloads very well, that have real storage and performance problems, or are trying to build huge arrays to do things like genomic analysis. Other early adopters will be the HPC (high-performance computing) or cloud folks who are trying to do faster transactions and need a way to move data in and out very, very quickly.”

According to initial reports, however, the price of 3D Xpoint technology is still too high for a consumer release. Intel and Micron are planning a limited release by the end of 2015, but there’s no timeline regarding the official, full-blown launch of 3D Xpoint. It’s easy to see how significant 3d Xpoint may be in the future, but the average consumer will be waiting a while to get their hands on it.

To keep up-to-date with the latest news and breakthroughs involving 3D Xpoint technology, interested parties can visit either www.micron.con or www.intel.com.

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