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Micron working on second-gen 3D XPoint non-volatile memory

by Mark Tyson on 28 August 2015, 14:45

Tags: Micron (NASDAQ:MU), Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

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The tech world was agog when Intel and Micron first revealed that they had started production of a new class of non-volatile memory which is many times faster and denser than the popular and widespread NAND. 3D Xpoint memory was subsequently launched and demonstrated at the IDF 2015 where a new 'Optane' branded drive, using the memory, trounced a current generation challenger by providing between 5x and 7x the IOPS performance.

While the first devices employing 3D Xpoint memory are yet to reach the market, you'll have to wait until sometime in 2016, a reminder that the tech world never sleeps is provided by a few morsels of information from a notable IDF session last week. KitGuru reports that Micron Technology is developing a second-generation 3D XPoint technology, its second-generation 3D NAND flash memory, and an undisclosed all-new memory technology codenamed 'New Memory B Gen 1'. See the roadmap below.

Considering the achievements present in the first generation of 3D XPoint memory it is thought that Micron and Intel will look more closely at capacity increases rather than further boosting speeds and reliability, which seem to be well catered for in Gen 1. Greater capacities could help spread the technology and make it more lucrative to the developers.

Looking further ahead, 'New Memory B Gen 1' will be purposed to ramp up performance and split the huge latency gap between non-volatile memory and DRAM performance according to an HPC Wire report. A later generation would follow with a 'performance focused' approach and could offer near DRAM latency speeds (see the slide below).

Intel and Micron will introduce the second-gen 3D XPoint memory in 2016 to be integrated into products the following year. 'New Memory B Gen 1' will probably only reach the market by 2018.

Chinese takeover?

In related industry news Reuters reports that Tsinghua Unigroup is pushing to acquire Micron. A previous offer of $23 billion to seal the deal was put forward in July but Micron turned it down, presuming that it would be blocked by the relevant U.S. regulatory committees.

However, earlier this week chairman of China's Tsinghua Unigroup, Zhao Weiguo, flew into the US to meet up with Micron, hoping to revive the deal. Zhao is expected to go and press the flesh with Washington bigwigs before returning to Beijing next week.

HEXUS Forums :: 1 Comment

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It is amazing to see the advancements and the future possibilities.
Problem is that the manufacturers and customers don't know which way to turn.
Just look at sata express, nice idea at the time, but I don't see a range of storage drives with the interface for sale. Maybe because it has already been superseded. But motherboards have the interface. Admittedly why bother when we have drives like the SM951.
Now they are talking about at least another big leap forward in speed.
How much faster is necessary for most situations and general usage?
I would like to see a capacity increase. Given how small these things are becoming, we still have (what is now effectively ancient tech when considering Moores Law and how slow they are) HDDs because they have the big capacity. Imagine how many TBs worth of modules you could fit into a 3.5“ case, even if you used slower msata type SSD modules? Or how many M.2 madules would fit into a 2.5” case?
They keep pushing the boundaries for SSD speed, but restrict us still to having HDD's for capacity.
And I hope they can deal with the heat produced in these new products, I have used both the XP941 and the SM951, and they both get very hot. So much so that I ended up putting big heatsinks onto them with fans blowing across to help cool them. Another review site has thermal photos of a Samsung XP941 and a Plextor PX-G256M6e that got to ridiculous temps (113 ┬░C just making a copy of a bunch of ISO files - I am not sure if it is OK to put in a link, but if you request it I will). After talking to some engineers at various companies which produce cooling solutions, it has even been noticed by them during in-house testing, so we may have M.2 coolers for sale in the future (how about trying to water cool your M.2 :-) ).
But what I want to see capacity increases up to at least several TBs (I would prefer to see 5 to 10TB's) with existing technology, instead of constantly trying to ramp up speeds with small capacity drives.
Here is a final thought, how about your new phone having TB's of storage instead of just a few GB's (my phone has 64Gb native, but I have 5x 64GB and 1x 128GB micro SD cards I swap between).