Computer chip giants Intel and Micro this week announced a new type of memory called 3D XPoint, as a result of joint development into non-volatile memory tech, that the companies claim is the first major breakthrough since the start of NAND flash memory in 1989.
Intel tech gets a speed boost
Why could it be so important? Because it could be the cure for all the memory bottlenecks in everything from laptops to smartphones. It’s said to be 1000 times faster than traditional NAND memory and 1000 times greater in terms of endurance, all the while packing 10 times the density of more typical DRAM components.
3D XPoint comes after more than a decade of research, and has what is described as a stackable, transistor-less three dimensional checkerboard layout where memory cells can be addressed individually at the intersections. It’s all pretty complex stuff, but basically the design allows it to read and write data in much smaller batches, which allows faster and more efficient operations.
The new tech isn’t even just a proof of concept – it’s already in the early stages of production and should make it into products soon.
“One of the most significant hurdles in modern computing is the time it takes the processor to reach data on long-term storage”, said Mark Adams, president of Micron. “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”.
Many different types of computers and devices can make use of such fast technology. For example according to the inventors, it could help to accelerate machine learning systems or help medical researchers study genetics and diseased in realtime.
Intel and Micron said they will release sample units to a few hardware companies later this year, with products being rolled out starting next year.