Print 20 comment(s) - last by TomZ.. on Oct 19 at 12:08 PM

Your next notebook will pack a little extra memory

At the Intel developer forum this past spring, Intel announced that the company would include 1GB of flash memory integrated into its upcoming mobile chipsets.  The technology, dubbed Robson, is part of the Santa Rosa Centrino platform, expected to launch in the second quarter of 2007.

This inclusion of 1GB of NAND memory is actually the first phase of Robson.  Soon after launch, vendors will also have the option to include 512MB instead of 1GB modules, as a cost-down alternative. Both the 1GB and 512MB modules are integrated into the Crestline chipset that makes up the core of the Santa Rosa platform.

Windows Vista is heavily reliant on the ability to use flash memory to cache files with Superfetch.  Rather than reading files off the hard drive, Superfetch occasionally writes the files to an available NAND device.  Vista will then pool the NAND device for the files, rather than power-up the hard drive.  Since the flash memory is integrated right onto the motherboard, the system can read the memory considerably faster than the hard drive while getting a nice power-saving benefit as well.

Intel is also planning a desktop version of Robson, currently dubbed Snowgrass. NAND and hybrid technology are currently slated as a requirement for Windows Vista Premium logo certification in 2007.  This NAND requirement can be fullfilled by hybrid solid state storage drives, but technologies like Robson will also fullfill the requirement.

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where's AMD?
By Pirks on 10/18/2006 2:57:41 PM , Rating: 3
yet another blow to AMD and Turion notebooks, C2D is going to be at the top of the notebook hill more than ever

RE: where's AMD?
By Puddleglum on 10/18/2006 3:13:49 PM , Rating: 1
they're probably doing the same thing. they're busy coloring inside the lines drawn by Intel.

RE: where's AMD?
By deeznuts on 10/18/2006 3:15:15 PM , Rating: 2
While true to some extent, AMD can just replicate the technology (if they can, I'm not sure). Both companies do this. All good companies do.

RE: where's AMD?
By Lifted on 10/18/2006 3:46:49 PM , Rating: 2
NAND and hybrid technology are currently slated as a requirement for Windows Vista Premium logo certification in 2007.

Do you really think Microsoft would make this a requirement if AMD wasn't working on their own solution?

RE: where's AMD?
By CSMR on 10/18/2006 4:50:37 PM , Rating: 2
This is not related to premium logo certification. That is to do with hybrid hard drives as you can see if you click on the link. Mr. Olsen was wrong to suggest a connection. It is true hawever that it extra flash memory should work well with Vista.

Limited writes on Flash
By rk3264 on 10/18/2006 5:24:23 PM , Rating: 2

Isn't it true that the FLASH has a limited number of writes during the lifetime. If the Flash is integrated into the chipset, how will it handle the writes that are done continuously.


RE: Limited writes on Flash
By peternelson on 10/18/2006 7:19:29 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah excessive writes to flash will trash it.

SO I think people have misunderstood intel communication.

AFAIK, the flash they intend for both desktop and laptop is A MODULE you plug in the motherboard it does NOT exist INSIDE THE CHIPSET ITSELF.

They PROBABLY mean that the new chipset contains the INTERFACE to the plug in flash facility.

As the chipset is soldered onto the board, it would mean a whole new motherboard if the flash failed and was inside the chipset, and particularly in notebooks, that is expensive.

Please tell me you are wrong.

RE: Limited writes on Flash
By mindless1 on 10/19/2006 1:34:19 AM , Rating: 2
and yet, that's what is happening with flash on hard drives. They don't seem to care that this gives equipment a more finite lifespan.

RE: Limited writes on Flash
By RMSe17 on 10/19/2006 10:35:59 AM , Rating: 2
If you are talking about solid state hard drives, yes.
But if you are talking about hard drive buffer memory, then no, that memory does not have a limited lifespan, since it is volatile memory kinda like your RAM.

They are developing hybrid drives that do have ~1Gb FLASH buffer, which will have a limited lifespan, but those drives are still in development.

RE: Limited writes on Flash
By RMSe17 on 10/19/2006 10:46:11 AM , Rating: 2
Yea, it has limited writes... for NAND flash, the lifespan is about 100,000 to 10,000,000 writes.

Exciting and New
By Dactyl on 10/18/2006 4:45:24 PM , Rating: 4
This technology is so exciting and new and there's absolutely nothing else like it in existence.

Except, you know, a USB key. Or a flash card.

That's all this is--a non-removable USB key buried in your laptop. How hard will it be for AMD's chipset manufacturers to do the same? Not very.

RE: Exciting and New
By phaxmohdem on 10/18/2006 9:46:53 PM , Rating: 2
As a person who has had several USB flash drives fail on him... and the limited write cycles provided by NAND devices.. I think it would be cool if the chipset sat in its own CPU type ZIF socket for replacement or upgrade.... If it went bad, or if you wanted to up your 512MB flash chip to a 1+ GB size in the future if there is performance to be gained from that.

I guess that would raise the cost of board production even higher though.

RE: Exciting and New
By DrDisconnect on 10/19/2006 12:01:31 PM , Rating: 3
I agree,

although NAND memory will be managed to balance usage across the available memory to extend lifetime, and bad memory can be isolated, a heavy user might still like to be able to replace the NAND someday. Although at worst you just get stuck with using the hard drive more often than you would otherwise.

By ajfink on 10/18/2006 3:37:00 PM , Rating: 5
Only a fool would think that AMD and its partners haven't at least come up with a plan to implement their version of this, since it's required for Vista Premium certification. With HyperTransport connecting it in a high-grade ATI chipset, it could possibly (read: probably) be better than Intel's. I only wonder if AMD's will use ZRAM.

Coloring inside the lines, cute. Seems as if Intel's been doing that more than AMD for the past few years.

Santa Rosa is shaping up to have great performance. I would be far more tempted to go for it if I weren't so scared at how much it's going to product, new technologies, Windows Vista, etc. The performance should be really great, though. Sad that AMD won't have a new notebook chip out until well into next year.

Intel has already done this in the past
By mAdD INDIAN on 10/18/2006 7:35:07 PM , Rating: 2
Also to add to the discussion, Intel already has many embedded chipsets (in cell phones) that have flash memory on-chip.

I don't believe its NAND flash, but its definately some form of flash memory embedded on the processor die.

By TomZ on 10/19/2006 12:08:14 PM , Rating: 2
Lots of embedded processors have (NOR) flash integrated on-chip. The story here is not that the flash is integrated on-chip, but that it is being used for this particular purpose in laptops, and since it is integrated with the chipset, it will become common to see this feature in next-generation laptops.

I'm not worried...
By leidegre on 10/19/2006 2:38:06 AM , Rating: 2
Robson looks promising, and I will try to get a Santa Rose notebook next year. But AMD has not released anything for some time now, sure they have had minor changes to thier architecture, but it is still the old K8 that is the desktop processor. The AM2 socket provides a new platform, but what I heard AMD will yet again, have to change that Socket. Annoying for the end-user, but necessary for moving forward, (Intel did the same thing with Core 2, all though some Core 2 work with older sockets). Anyhow, Core 2 is a next generation CPU compared with the K8 architecture, so we will have to se if AMD will be able to compete with Intel with thier FX-7x CPUs, or if they will release a new architecture, within this year. Time will have to tell.

RE: I'm not worried...
By Kim Leo on 10/19/2006 9:15:17 AM , Rating: 2
well, yes AMD is coming with a new "socket" but it's just like the old Socket 7, and Socket super 7, the difference is FSB, or HT in AM2+ as it is called, however AM2+ will support older AMD AM2 CPU's and you will be able to use AM2+ CPU's in AM2 boards, AM2+ will support Ht 3.0, that's 2GHz up and 2 down, thats freaking fast, but it's only because of PCI-E 2.0, so if you're fine with the AM2 setup you have now but want a much faster CPU, it's possible :)

I love this tech
By therealnickdanger on 10/18/2006 3:32:02 PM , Rating: 2
Well, maybe not "love", but you know what I mean... I was really excited before about hybrid hard drives, but once I heard about Robson, I thought to myself what a better idea that was. Hard drives are getting so cheap, it would be a shame to see their prices escalate again. I hope that this is a common feature on all laptops by 2008 and I hope it is upgradeable should I wish to toss in a faster/higher capacity flash card later. Then again, this is sort of an interim technology while we wait for SSDs to grow in size and drop in price...

By crystal clear on 10/18/2006 3:46:23 PM , Rating: 2
The Santa Rosa platform that will include the above chipset
should implemented within the framework of CBB-

Intels COMMON BUILDING BLOCK (CBB)initiative-which aims to
standardize notebook components within the notebook market.

Component standardization within the notebook market is good both for manufacurers & buyers.

This is the only way to drive down prices to make these new technologies affordable.

Cost saving benefit should be the core of all the Intel platforms we will see in 2007/08 & further down.

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