Think your solid state drive is blazing fast? Then prepare to be amazed by the new storage system being proposed by Intel and Micron, which promises speeds that are one thousand times faster than current NAND Flash memory.
The new type of memory, called 3D XPoint and pronounced cross-point, is said to be 1,000 times faster in both read and write than NAND, as well as being durable and dense. In fact, CNET reports that it’s ten times more dense than NAND memory, allowing it to squeeze more capacity into the same physical size while remaining energy efficient—and “affordable”, though it’s open for debate what the latter may mean.
Intel and Micro claim that the new type of memory can be used as both system memory and non-volatile storage, suggesting it can be used to replace both RAM and SSDs. At first computers will use PCI Express to interface with the memory, but Intel claims that such a connection won’t be able to deliver all the speed benefits of the new memory, so new motherboard architecture will be required to make the most of XPoint.
CNET claims it “stores data in a totally different manner from the means used by existing NAND” using “the property change of the memory cell itself, instead of storing the cell in a capacitor in the traditional way.” That occurs over a lattice of perpendicular conductors that connect 128 billion densely packed memory cells, with each one storing a single bit of data.
Each slab of the new memory, pictured above, stores 128Gb of data across two memory layers—though it’s expected the number of layers will increase in the future. Right now, Intel and Micron envisage making the new memory available sometime next year, though pricing remains a mystery. Either way, we’re pretty excited to try it out.