Intel & Micron, two leaders in the industry, have unveiled their new 3D XPoint memory chip. The technology (also known as Optane) will increase both performance and durability by 1,000 times the current NAND flash memory.
Needless to say, that concept is hardly fathomable to the average desktop user. To think that a new chip could have power equal to 1,000 of our current hard drives is downright insane – though Optane isn’t without its drawbacks.
As usual, cutting-edge technology is normally too expensive for the everyday user. Add in the game-changing element that has Optane kicking down the door to new heights, and it could be a long while before we see anything of the sort hitting shelves at your local tech store.
But in some ways, that’s a good thing. For one, it forces flash technology to either advance at a more rapid pace or risk being put out to pasture altogether.
From a recent article in Computer World:
“In the non-volatile memory industry, the same kind of advances have occurred to blow past capacity limits. Single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash became multi-level (MLC) NAND, where instead of one bit per transistor, two and three bits were stored. When MLC NAND faced its limits with the sub-10 nanometer (nm) lithography process, Samsung introduced 3D NAND flash, a move quickly followed by Intel/Micron and Toshiba, which stacked NAND cells up to 48-layers high. Flash manufacturers believe there’s no limit in sight to how high they may climb.”
Yes, you read that correctly – the manufacturers have no idea how what the limits are for the current premier flash technology. While the idea that we can continue expanding in the same space forever is surely foolish, it certainly shows that flash technology won’t be nearing an early demise anytime soon.
More importantly though, if advances are made quickly enough, prices for flash memory could decrease dramatically. As the much cheaper alternative, flash could take over as the dominant force in the data storage market.
It’s an interesting debate to be sure, especially since no one really knows how things will turn out. Either way, we’re excited to see what the future holds.
You can learn more about Optane and flash technology in the above-mentioned article.