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Intel's Robson controller will bring NAND to notebook motherboards. SnowGrass is the exact same technology but for desktops - Courtesy AnandTech
Solid-state storage finally comes into mass production; although prices are still sky-high

Last week at IDF, we reported that Intel's next major mobile platform, called Santa Rosa, will feature NAND flash memory technology in order to allow devices to startup and execute programs. This technology, dubbed Robson, will improve boot times, reduce paging and be used as a general buffer between storage devices and system memory. 

Interestingly, Intel also mentioned that Robson will have a version for desktop computers called Snowgrass. The technology is currently in the works and is planned to be released after Robson. Motherboard makers will have designs that contain a slot designed to take a Snowgrass NAND module. This opens the door for users to customize their motherboards with various sizes of modules for whatever purposes they choose, and also allows the ability to upgrade NAND as it gets less and less expensive.  Remember when L2 cache used to sit on the motherboard?

Intel's current Snowgrass specification calls for a modular design, but it now appears that motherboard makers have the option of integrating the technology directly on board. There is no word yet on capacities, but for Snowgrass or Robson to really have any value over the purchase of a faster hard drive, we would have to speculate that the cost of such a module cost less than a few gigabytes of system memory.  We would not be surprised if Robson and Snowgrass have similar price  points and capacities as USB NAND at the time of launch.  Today, 4GB pen drives using NAND flash memory cost approximately $100.

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Notice it's a plug in module .... consider why?
By peternelson on 3/15/2006 9:22:32 AM , Rating: 2
Hmmm, NAND.

If this is like NAND flash, then it will have a limited write cycle like existing USB sticks, compact flash etc.

If used READ ONLY as an OS boot that's cool. But I can already do that with a CF card and an IDE/CF adaptor so what is the big deal?

If they think instead you cache your hard disk writes to it, then they must think the average user does little disk writing.

If this was so great an idea why not just integrate the chips on the motherboard. I will tell you why they do not. Because they think using it a lot will exceed the rewrite capacity of the memory technology (maybe around 1 million writes). That is why a module slot hence "replaceable" or more "disposable". Just bin it and buy another card? What a waste of resources and $$$. They ought to allow strict control over what writes occur, and for what purposes.

eg CF is ok as a linux boot drive (with ide adaptor) but ideally don't keep your log files on there (because of excessive writes). Sandisk CF is not bad. Lamer makers CF tends to die in that application because they have not implemented "wear levelling" algorithm.

The idea is good but the implementation should be STATIC RAM with battery backup. If the battery is dying only then write it to disk or some flash.

For a user who just browses the web and sends email this device is ideal. For someone who does data processing, it could work out expensive in replacement modules unless they can explicitly set what purpose the NAND board is used for. And I don't see that feature in any of the details given.

On the positive side, it could allow hard drives to spin down, saving power and noise until they are needed.

By Zoomer on 3/17/2006 2:50:18 AM , Rating: 2
Do you have any idea how expensive static ram is?

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook
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