At the Intel Developer Forum in mid September Kingston Technology demonstrated a prototype of an intriguing product certified by Microsoft to support the Windows To Go version of Windows 8 Enterprise. The device, called the DataTraveler Workspace (or DT Workspace for short) is more than the simple USB flash drive it resembles.
While a USB flash drive or thumb drive contains little more than a USB flash controller and some NAND flash, the DT Workspace includes a full SSD (based on a standard SandForce controller) plus DRAM. Windows compatible systems and certain other systems can boot through the USB port with full operation securely remaining Continue reading “Kingston’s ‘Windows To Go’ Thumb Drive”
Someone recently asked The Memory Guy to comment on a projection that NAND flash bit consumption was headed into a period of reduced growth. This appears to have stemmed from a comment made by another memory analyst.
This drove me to compile this report’s graphic, which compares historical bit growth for DRAM (bottom, black line) against that of NAND flash (upper red line). Although NAND started out with astronomical annual bit growth of nearly 250%, it declined in 2011 to around 70%. This brings it closer to DRAM’s rate that ranges around 50%.
This is not cause for alarm – when the NAND market was very small bit growth was expected to be high. Large demand upturns could be relatively easily accommodated. Today’s multibillion-dollar capacity additions require more careful planning. This is the Law of Large Numbers.
We are at a point where NAND bit growth will probably settle into a range similar to that of DRAM. Consumption will be limited by economics, since production increases involve huge capital expenditures.
So, in a way, we are more headed out of a period of declining bit growth than going into one.
Objective Analysis has produced a report: Understanding the NAND Market, that is available for immediate download from our website.
Lane Mason of Objective Analysis recently shared with The Memory Guy an article he wrote for the 4 April 2007 Denali Memory Report covering Phase Change Memory (PCM or PRAM.) It looked like something big was about to happen with the technology: PCM looked nearly ready to enter production.
The article included an excerpt of an EE Times interview with Micron’s CEO, the late Steve Appleton, in which Appleton stated that PCM advocates threatened to take over the memory market in 2000.
Here it is 2012, and PCM represents little more than a drop in the bucket when it comes to memory sales, although Continue reading “Alternative Memory Technologies Patiently Wait For Market to Explode”
A colleague recently asked me to verify that the DRAM business has had zero net profits over its entire history. This is something he had heard at a technology event that really surprised him.
I have often heard this story myself, for DRAM as well as for flash (both NAND and NOR) but I had never put in the time to test the assertion.
This statement is certainly attention grabbing, and because of that presenters everywhere will find some way to include this “fact” into their slideshows. “But is it true?” he asked me.
Well, I can’t call myself “The Memory Guy” without having an answer to this question, so I Continue reading “Is DRAM Really a Profitless Business?”
Today Samsung announced that its chips are used exclusively to make up the 324-terabytes of DRAM in Germany’s new Leibniz Supercomputing Centre SuperMUC supercomputer.
Samsung’s release tells us that the SuperMUC, the most powerful supercomputer system in Europe, is an IBM System x iDataPlex dx360 M4 server built using over 18,000 Intel Xeon CPUs and over 80,000 4GB DRAM modules from Samsung. (Simple math makes this out to be 82,944 modules.)
That looks like a lot of silicon! Let’s see how much that might be.
A 4GB parity DRAM module would use nine 4Gb DRAM chips, which Samsung appears to Continue reading “Samsung DRAMs in Massive Leibniz SuperMUC”
In a surprise announcement Toshiba has said that it will immediately cut NAND flash production by approximately 30%. The company explains that this is being done “to reduce inventory in the market and improve the overall balance between supply and demand.” Toshiba’s release implies that this move is expected to improve prices, which have dropped as low as $0.31/GB recently.
By common measures of market share, which typically leave out SanDisk (for reasons too complex to discuss here) Toshiba holds a share of roughly 30% of the NAND flash market. By cutting its output by 30% Toshiba would be reducing overall NAND supply by 10%. If we were to include SanDisk, then that percentage would decrease to about 7.5%. Either one of these is significantly more than Continue reading “Toshiba to Cut NAND Production by 30%”
After years of prototyping Micron Technology claims to be the first to introduce production volumes of Phase-Change Memory, or PCM. This memory, also known as PRAM, has long been positioned as a contender to replace flash once flash reaches its scaling limit. Rather than use electrons to store a bit, PCM uses a type of glass that is conductive when in a crystalline state and resistive when amorphous, two states that are relatively easy to control. The size of the bits can shrink to a very small dimensions, allowing PCM to scale into the single-digit number of nanometers, which most folks today believe to be beyond the realm of flash.
This product began its life at Intel, then followed the Numonyx spin-off, and was taken over by Micron when it acquired Numonyx. In fact, Intel got into PCM very early on – this post’s graphic is the cover of an Electronics Magazine from September 1970 with an Intel story, written by Gordon Moore, telling about a 128-bit PCM research chip.
So far only three companies have produced samples Continue reading “Micron PCM Enters Mass Production”
An acquaintance recently brought to my attention an article in R&D Magazine about some pioneering research on phase-change memories or PCM. The researchers’ findings hold a lot of promise. (R&D Magazine’s article is based upon an original paper in the journal Science.)
A team led by Ritesh Agarwal, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania, was trying to develop a better understanding of the mechanism behind the phase changes in PCM. The team found that existing programming algorithms that involve melting the material could be replaced with pulses of electrical current that not only would program the cell without heat, but provided an “On” to “Off” resistance ratio of 2-3 orders of magnitude, which renders the cell significantly easier to read, especially in the presence of noise. This effectively makes memory chip design Continue reading “A New Way to Build Phase-Change Memory (PCM)”
Everyone knows that flash memory is about to hit its scaling limit – it’s right around the corner. We’re ready for it because it’s been right around the corner for more than a decade now. It’s so close we can taste it.
When will it happen?
One thing that is quite clear is that nobody knows when NAND flash will stop scaling. Everyone knows that it’s soon, but researchers continue to find ways to push the technology another couple of process nodes past where anyone thought it could possibly go, and they have been doing this since Continue reading “The End of Flash Scaling”
Last January at the Storage Visions Conference in Las Vegas (held every year just prior to CES) I asked the audience what they would do when NAND flash reached a price of 35¢ per gigabyte. My projection (the dotted red line on the chart at left) was that prices would reach that level by the end of the year.
My audience was shocked to hear such a low price!
Price declines open up new markets. It was time to think creatively, I said, because that’s where pricing would be by the end of 2012.
Well, I was wrong – according to Continue reading “NAND Flash at 35 Cents per Gigabyte”