Intel, STM Ship First Phase-Change Memory Samples
February 7, 2008 5:02 PM
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New high-speed flash memory may take over current flash technology
Solid-state memory is already a critical piece of technology as the demand for high-speed storage increases in computing and personal electronics to commercial grade and high-end products. Solid-state memory offers not only faster operations but also lower power requirements compared to current hard disk drives which contain mechanical parts and require more power to perform read and write activities.
Advancements in solid-state memory technology have brought us from the old days of the ROM technology to recent advances in NOR and NAND flash memory used in the most common personal media devices. So what's next for solid-state, non-volatile memory?
Intel and STMicroelectronics recently announced the
delivery of the first Phase Change Memory prototypes
(PCM) to customers for preliminary testing of this new technology. PCM is a type of memory similar to RAM which also includes the non-volatile characteristics of current flash memory technology. PCM has the ability to read and write data much faster while requiring less power to perform these operations.
The joint development program between Intel and STMicroelectronics has come up with this prototype PCM product codenamed
, a 128Mbit device manufactured using a 90nm process, which is aimed to take on current flash memory technologies such as NOR and NAND flash memory -- commonly used in USB thumb drives.
It's no surprise that current flash memory technology degrades over a certain amount of operations performed. Current NOR and NAND flash memory can usually withstand 100,000 and 1,000,000 cycles respectively before the media begins to degrade. But memory products using PCM technology have a much higher endurance with a tolerance of about 100 million cycles before the effects of degradation become evident.
One of the main downfalls of PCM is that degradation occurs under high temperatures which can cause data loss due to the way the technology writes to the contained cells, however, Intel and STMicroelectronics may be able to find a way to overcome the hurdle.
Current prototypes of
have shipped to customers such as cellular phone manufacturers and media device developers to test the implementation of such memory products in their devices. If they like what they see we may see the improved memory architecture in products soon.
Intel isn't putting all of its solid-state research into one technology. Last week the company announce it provided funding to Nanochip, Inc., a startup company that is taking solid-state memory to a new level in capacity. Nanochip is working on a storage technology based on MEMS, or microelectromechanical systems, that is able to squeeze
125GB of storage on a square inch
. Nanochip claims this technology scales much better than phase change memory and has a higher tolerance to thermal conditions where PCM can fail.
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RE: GPU company?
2/7/2008 11:41:22 PM
I forgot, STM licensed other ImgTec IP too. I think the chip in the Dreamcast was a PowerVR2 design. STM also used the chips in numerous arcade systems.
RE: GPU company?
2/8/2008 2:37:24 AM
The dreamcast used a similar-but-different chip to the one found in the Neon250, which was the previous generation before the KYRO series and manufactured by NEC. It ran at 100Mhz vs 125Mhz but was about the same speed due to some sacrifices made in the silicon for the PC AIB version (powervr250). By the way, despte what Nvidia might want you to believe. This was the first ever graphics card capable of full scene anti aliasing. Though it was a bit slow to use except in really low rez, and D3D only, it was still the first.;)
KYRO and KYRO 2 (115Mhz and 166Mhz respectively, only difference) was manufactured by STMicro. STmicro sold its graphics division just prior to the release of the KYRO 3, which was more than just a speed bump. KYRO 3 was rumoured to bring a fixed function TnL unit and doubling the rendering pipes to 4... plus free multisample anti aliasing.
It never happened though, because STMicro refused to allow any bidders to use the propriatry technology STM had used in the design of the KYRO/KYRO II without royalties buyers were prepared to put up with. There was talk of (IIRC) Via buying them out and producing the chip, deal was almost reached. Ended up shelved, sadly.
This PowerVR fan is still waiting for SGX to arrive in a PC card (SGX is the DX 10.1 compliant series 5):)
"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet. A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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