updated 08:40 am EST, Fri February 1, 2008
Intel Micro 5X Faster NAND
Intel and Micron today announced a new, extra-quick variant on NAND flash memory that should significantly alter the landscape for mass storage. By using the new ONFI 2.0 (Open NAND Flash Interface) spec combined with higher clock speeds and a four-level cell process, the unnamed technology transfers data up to five times faster than conventional technology. Where even normally quick single-level cell memory reads data at 40 megabytes per second and writes at 20 megabytes per second or less, the new technology reads and writes at 200 and 100 megabytes per second respectively, eliminating one of the final barriers to outperforming rotating hard drives.
The technology could have large implications for storage, Intel says. While more than ideal for completely solid-state drives, even hybrid drives using the memory as cache could run between two to four times faster than a conventional disk. The memory would also eliminate many of the bottlenecks in attaching to a computer and could make the most of USB 3.0 for external devices such as portable media players or HD-capable camcorders. Intel's Turbo Memory system cache, which is designed to improve boot and load times, should also see a benefit from the technology.
Neither Intel nor Micron has said when the new NAND memory should enter mass production, though the news comes early into 2008 and increases the likelihood that finished products using the memory will be available by the end of the year.