Intel (www.intel.com) and Micron Technology (www.micron.com) have unveiled 3D XPoint technology, a non-volatile memory that the companies say has the potential to revolutionize any device, application or service that benefits from fast access to large sets of data.
Now in production, 3D XPoint technology is the first new memory category since the introduction of NAND flash in 1989. Rob Crooke, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group, says the explosion of connected devices and digital services is generating massive amounts of new data. To make this data useful, it must be stored and analyzed very quickly, which creates challenges for service providers and system builders who must balance cost, power and performance trade-offs when they design memory and storage solutions.
Crooke says 3D XPoint technology combines the performance, density, power, non-volatility and cost advantages of all available memory technologies on the market today. The technology is up to 1,000 times faster and has up to 1,000 times greater endurance3 than NAND, and is 10 times denser than conventional memory, he adds.
“One of the most significant hurdles in modern computing is the time it takes the processor to reach data on long-term storage,” says Mark Adams, president of Micron. “This new class of non-volatile memory is a revolutionary technology that allows for quick access to enormous data sets and enables entirely new applications.”
As the digital world quickly grows – from 4.4 zettabytes of digital data created in 2013 to an expected 44 zettabytes by 20204 – 3D XPoint technology can turn this immense amount of data into valuable information in nanoseconds. For example, retailers may use 3D XPoint technology to more quickly identify fraud detection patterns in financial transactions; healthcare researchers could process and analyze larger data sets in real time, accelerating complex tasks such as genetic analysis and disease tracking.
The performance benefits of 3D XPoint technology could also enhance the computer experience, allowing consumers to enjoy faster interactive social media and collaboration as well as more immersive gaming experiences. The non-volatile nature of the technology also makes it a great choice for a variety of low-latency storage applications since data is not erased when the device is powered off, according to Adams. 3D XPoint technology ushers in a new class of non-volatile memory that significantly reduces latencies, allowing much more data to be stored close to the processor and accessed at speeds previously impossible for non-volatile storage, he adds.
The transistor-less cross point architecture creates a three-dimensional checkerboard where memory cells sit at the intersection of word lines and bit lines, allowing the cells to be addressed individually. As a result, data can be written and read in small sizes, leading to faster and more efficient read/write processes.