Print 42 comment(s) - last by mindless1.. on Jan 31 at 11:47 PM

Intel and Nanochip team up to develop 100 gigabytes per chip

This article was syndicated from Tiago Marques' blog at

Nanochip, Inc., a Silicon Valley startup, has managed to raise $14 million in funding from Intel Capital, Intel's global investment organization, for further development of the MEMS technology.

You read it right: gigabytes, not gigabits.

According to Nanochip (PDF), the technology isn't lithography constrained, allowing production of chips of more than 1GB in capacity, in plants that have already been deemed outdated by current standards.

The lack of lithography constraints means cheaper products, resulting in an opportunity to also replace flash memory, as the technology is also non-volatile.

Today's factories should be able to produce the first products, estimated at 100GB per chip, when the technology is expected to be unleashed for public consumption by 2010. The first samples will be available during 2009.

PRAM, or phase change memory, was expected to be the technology to replace flash in the coming years, since it is also non-volatile, while it is much faster than flash. As Intel found out over the last few years, PRAM doesn't seemed to scale so well, in regards to density, and still has some boundaries to overcome -- namely it's thermal principles of operation.

Nanochip's details of the technology are ambiguous at best, though what is known is that the company is working on hybrid micro-electric-mechanical -- the partnership with Intel suggests a PRAM connection too.  The company has described this as a very small platter coated in chalcogenide is dragged beneath hundreds of thousands of electrical probes which can read and write the chalcogenide.  Casual estimates put this sort of density at one terabit per square inch, or 125GB per square inch. 

The company has not disclosed access speeds. That's a place where PRAM is appointed to be the undisputed king of the hill, so it could limit applications of this type of technology.

For now it seems that the flash SSD drives are going to be replaced before they even reach mass consumption -- which is a good thing. The technology is expensive, doesn't provide a lot of storage space and is prone to failure, due to the low amount of write cycles available per cell. Flash is perfect for pendrives and resisting shock, not so good for regular, intensive, HDD usage.

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By mindless1 on 1/28/2008 6:55:13 PM , Rating: 2
"is prone to failure, due to the low amount of write cycles available per cell."

First I should write that I'm not really trying to be critical of Tiago Marques' statement because many many people have repeated this, it's become a very common urban myth.

Anything is supposedly prone to failure. Now tell us you or anyone you know has actually bought an appropriate device for their high write cycle use (meaning it has SLC instead of MLC flash chips) and had it fail from this wear-leveled, write cycle limitation.

Go ahead and list all the people who have had their SLC chipped flash drive fail due to this. I'd be surprised if you know anyone and even if you do it's only a handful of people. This means the opposite that it is less prone to failure than other storage mediums. Less prone than a hard drive, a floppy drive, a zip disk, a tape, a CD, DVD, etc.

Please, stop the madness. Practially all of us have flash thumbdrives and we dont' see them failing, we see the supposedly higher write cycle mechanical hard drive failing instead at a much higher rate. Even if you discount WHY the hard drive fails the fact remains that on average, we have a lower realized # of write cycles until failure with a mechanical hard drive and that will remain true until people actually have their flash drives fail instead of just trying to theorize based on a minimal guarantee of write cycles (Nevermind average or max!).

Something cannot be prone to failure and simultaneously there are rarely if ever any actual failures! I suppose people just like the easy answer, look at two numbers and see which is larger then ignore all other evidence.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher
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