Intel has teamed up with Micron to create the next generation of memory and today’s press event was to announce this to the world. It was done with big words and as we’ve learned from the recent Intel 750 SSD launch, they mean business when they say so.
Where the 750 SSD took NAND and moved it onto a better platform that could be better utilized by the CPU instead of being bottlenecked by SATA and SAS bus’, this introduction is something completely new. It is dubbed the 3D XPoint (3D Cross Point) and is truly the next generation memory. It’s also about time that we get a new type of memory as the current NAND technology, while improved upon over time, already is over 25 years old.
3D XPoint is a new class of non-volatile memory that can provide speeds up to 1,000 times faster than current NAND technology. Not only is it faster, it is also a lot more durable and doesn’t have the trouble with a lot of writes as NAND does. This will bring game-changing performance to the market.
Not only is 3D XPoint said to be 1000 times faster and 1000 times more durable, it also has 10 times or more density than conventional memory.
The idea in itself isn’t new, but most people didn’t think it was possible. Intel and Micron had to come up with completely new materials and combinations as well as methods to combine them into a working product that could be mass produced.
Where normal memory just changes a part of the material used to indicate its state, 3D XPoint memory uses bulk material property change where the whole part changes instead of just being electron-based. This allows for more capacity in denser storage and the current production is spitting out 128Gbit sizes.
The 3D stacking is different from 3D NAND as it truly allows expansion in all direction without any effect to the performance. The unique switches inside are the key for this and it’s where the strength comes from. 3D NAND allows for more capacity, but not more speed, and that is why we need this new technology.
The pure nature of the technology also allows for much better data security as nothing will be lost in case of power failures. It can be used for both storage and system memory and as such could be the next big thing.
This isn’t just a proof of concept or a fancy powerpoint presentation with an idea, these are actual memory chips that currently are being produced in the joint factory of Micron and Intel. Both companies will release products based on this new technology in 2016 and they don’t expect any shortages in supply. That’s great news.
The final thing you might be asking yourself, what is the price and how does it really place itself in usability in comparison with other memory types. Both of these questions can be answered in one, it places itself between DRAM and NAND, so that’s not so bad news.