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Data Storage Hardware

Intel, Micron Boost Flash Memory Speed by Five Times 67

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the fastest-draw-in-the-valley dept.
Lucas123 writes "IM Flash Technologies, a joint venture between Intel and Micron, announced they've been able to improve NAND memory and its circuitry in order to boost read/write speeds by five times their current ability. The new 8Gbit single-level cell, high-speed NAND chip will offer 200MB/sec read speeds and write speeds of up to 100MB/sec, which means faster data transfer between devices like solid-state drives and video cards. IM Flash Technologies plans to begin shipping the new chip later this year."
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Intel, Micron Boost Flash Memory Speed by Five Times

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  • That's fast (Score:2, Interesting)

    Will it finally make sense for USB 3 flash drives? ;)
  • Faster USB needed (Score:2, Informative)

    by flyingfsck (986395)
    This will be useful for solid state disk drives. Unfortunately USB is stuck at an effective throughput of about 28MB/s so it won't help for cheap external drives.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      However if you consider all the other places flash is being used. It wil be a big boon. Now all we need is for MRAM to come online.
    • by timeOday (582209) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @02:50AM (#22271216)
      Yeah, but for solid state hard drives this is quite a leap. I'm starting to think winchester drives are going to be extinct within 5 years.
      • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @03:21AM (#22271324)
        They won't be extinct, but they'll be used for storage. If I'm booting my operating system from a spinning disk in 2013, I'll be pretty disappointed with technology!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kjella (173770)

        Yeah, but for solid state hard drives this is quite a leap. I'm starting to think winchester drives are going to be extinct within 5 years.

        Not unless the price still comes waaaaaaaaaaaaay down. It's not a technical difficulty of making it, I think BitMicro or whoever it was showed off a 900GB SSD in a 2.5" form factor. I don't remember the read/write specs but I think those too beat the crap out of any normal HDD. That trumphs everything a regular disk does, even on capacity. The downside is price, looking at the SSDs available now there's a 100:1 premium per GB. That might work out in a business laptop where 32GB SSD is more useful than 320G

        • A wireless backup device/web connected file server they are rolling out any day now is what laptop owners want.

          As a laptop only user I don't want to store everything on my system but I do want instant access to everything I have.

          So my ideal hardware accessory is a RAID array attached to a wireless router which also has a coax in with cable converter and built in DVR ;-p and make it under $200 please

          Since I'm an Apple customer I'd love for Steve-o to bring out a AppleTV/TimeCapsule(router w/ hard drive) that
    • Re:Faster USB needed (Score:4, Informative)

      by ciroknight (601098) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @03:12AM (#22271290)
      You're right. If only there was a new, faster USB standard that would be able to take advantage of these new data rates. They could call it "USB 3.0", or "USB SuperSpeed" or something. Oh Wait... [usb.org]
  • AVAILABILITY? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    So what are the read/write cycles, how much will they cost, and when can I get 200GB of them all in a nice pretty box? Even 10GB would be good for a nice little web server. Near zero latency would mean slashdotting is reduced to network bandwidth.
    • by igny (716218)
      Can't you put 10GB of RAM into server and use that? New Mac Pro can get 32GB of RAM. Near 0 latency there.
      • by Tumbleweed (3706) *
        Can't you put 10GB of RAM into server and use that? New Mac Pro can get 32GB of RAM. Near 0 latency there.

        Machines that take that much RAM tend to use rather expensive RAM, making that way more expensive than a big HD. Hopefully Moore's Law will enable increases in SSD capacity while driving down prices at a similar pace. Two generations (36 months) and we'll see laptops abandoning spinning platters affordably.
  • Wtf does this have to do with video cards?
    • Videocards need fast memory built onto the board itself.
      • Re:Video cards? (Score:5, Informative)

        by repvik (96666) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @02:47AM (#22271208)
        Yes, video cards need fast RAM. If you haven't noticed, this article is about flash memory, not RAM. If you shove this crap into a video card, you'll be going a helluvalot slower than you are today ;)
        • It would be horrible as a replacement for a video card's ram, but it could make a nice cache. If it is cheaper than the main ram of the video card it could allow for fast caching of upcoming content to reduce load times. A bit like how RAM is slower than the L3 cache which is slower than the L2, etc, etc.
          • Re:Video cards? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by blahplusplus (757119) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @03:12AM (#22271296)
            Even with the bandwidth increases, what you're spouting is nonsense. The local bandwidth of ram is infinitely faster and cheaper then flash, period. Not to mention: It doesn't wear out. Why would you put flash in a video card which does insane amounts of reads and writes per second? You'd have to be an idiot.
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Yvan256 (722131)
              1. Make videocard which uses Flash
              2. Advertize the hell out of it
              3. People buy videocards that last about a month at most
              4. Profit!
            • actually it could be really nice if you could slot additional virtual memory on a video card- not for realtime stuff, but 3d rendering (for things like maya, c4d, 3dstudio) and video editing/rendering where you could effectively parse the frame renders, currently a large amount of that gets dumped into the machine's virtual memory which gets slow- I have to keep a 8-10gig swap file for when I do renders a lot of time to keep from crashing even though I have 4 gigs of RAM in my machine- if I could slot 64 g
              • There are already solutions for serious 3D artists/etc. Not to mention SSD's are going to replace hard drives soon for people with those workflows making your suggestion obsolete.
                • very true on the ssd's, though right now they still aren't too affordable, but on the solutions for 3d- there are a lot of solutions for split, farm and batch rendering but the actual frame memory buffers are still a bit of an issue when calculating physics and mesh deforms- you can very easily crash on the calc time for your renders if you are doing real time nurbs and mesh deformations with formulas(I usually use both maya and c4d)- most of the time if you are not setup with a buff server to perform the a
          • by repvik (96666)
            Well, what about just using "regular" DDR ram as cache? That'll still be way faster than using flash.
            There is persistant storage on the video card (They still have a flashable BIOS, or has advancements passed me completely?) for the BIOS. Increasing the readspeed of the BIOS would decrease the time required for the video card to initialize and cache the BIOS to RAM. But that is afaik a once-off improvement, and not anything to shout really loud about.

            I don't see any need for persistant storage on a video ca
    • by Erpo (237853) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @03:13AM (#22271300)
      The blurb says this will lead to faster transfers between flash memory and video card memory, which is certainly true. Faster flash will lead to faster transfer between flash and just about anything.

      I think this is similar to how the latest greatest processors are marketed as improving the "internet experience." Well sure. Not having a CPU at all or having a CPU from twelve years ago will hamper your "internet experience" compared to any new CPU.
      • by toetagger (642315)
        If you interpret "vide card" as the card in a HD videa camcorder, then I could see it being useful to wait 10 minutes in stead of 1 hour for my kid's soccer game to be transferred to my PC.
  • Wonder when AMD will buy a memory company or team up with them. It's pretty clear the knowledge of compressing a CPU down to size is being used in memory here.
    • Ever hear of a little company called spansion?
      -nB
    • by Bender_ (179208)

      Actually memory and logic are completely different worlds.
    • by sirsnork (530512)
      AMD _is_ a memory company, last time I looked (and I admit it was a few years ago) they made WAY more money from their flash division than from their CPU division
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bender_ (179208)

        AMD divested of their memory business years ago. You should look more often.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      AMD had a flash memory division; it's flash ran alongside their logic products in Fab25, but took a backseat to them in both production and engineering. As a result, their flash technology rapidly slipped behind the market leaders. AMD then formed a joint venture with Fujitsu called Fujitsu AMD Semiconductor Limited (FASL) to jointly develop and market their products at about the same time that AMD was moving their logic line to Fab30. FASL was soon split from both companies into a separate entity, and rena
  • What about lifetime? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Z00L00K (682162) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @03:42AM (#22271382) Homepage
    The lifetime of a flash memory has been one of the issues with flash memories. How good is that on those memories? Will they die after 1000 cycles or after a billion cycles?

    As usual - the lifetime of a product also requires the consumers to buy a new hot version.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eebra82 (907996)
      Well, consider this: NAND is commonly used in solid state drives. I doubt companies like Dell, Lenovo and Apple would sell computers configured with SSD:s if they sucked it down with only a few cycles. This was a problem in early versions, but things have improved much and will surely improve to a point that makes it practically "unbreakable".
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        Yes, but that doesn't stop the trolls and karma whores from bringing up an issue that plauged *first generation* flash devices, in order to appear insightful.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tlhIngan (30335)

        Well, consider this: NAND is commonly used in solid state drives. I doubt companies like Dell, Lenovo and Apple would sell computers configured with SSD:s if they sucked it down with only a few cycles. This was a problem in early versions, but things have improved much and will surely improve to a point that makes it practically "unbreakable".

        Not really.

        There's still cycle time limits. The main issue came from NOR flash, which is different from NAND. NOR flash came first (mid-80s), and the very early versio

  • by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Saturday February 02, 2008 @03:51AM (#22271398) Homepage Journal
    LinuxBIOS was already down to 3 seconds, and I'll guess that slow flash access times contributed some to that. We could also see the revival of cartridge hard disks, only solid-state. A variant on that would be to have a RAID array where one or more of the disks were replaced with flash devices. In either case, you'd probably improve longevity and definitely improve resilience to things like shock. It wouldn't be cheap, sure, but the people mainly concerned with ruggedized technology (aircraft vendors, the military, war correspondents) are less likely to be concerned by price than by whether it'll survive the environment.

    It could significantly increase the usefulness of suspend/resume at the OS level. The limits on writes is a headache, but it would be possible to treat flash devices as additional swap space, making it theoretically possible to have hot-swappable swap devices as per some rather ancient mainframes. (Virtual swap space can be larger than the physical space directly available to a machine.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bloater (12932)

      LinuxBIOS was already down to 3 seconds
      LinuxBIOS is now called coreboot [coreboot.org]
      • by jd (1658)
        I know. I maintain the Freshmeat record for it and had to change the description and links after the changeover. I happen to think Coreboot is a crappy name and there's a risk that any positive associations people have with LinuxBIOS will get lost. Mind you, it's probably much more acceptable to suits and marketroids, who always disliked both the Linux association and the idea of an unwarrantied BIOS (not that any BIOS is actually under warranty, or that anyone has ever successfully sued a software company
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tumbleweed (3706) *
      We could also see the revival of cartridge hard disks, only solid-state.

      You watch - soon we'll all be storing data on little coloured cartridges ala Star Trek.

      Ladies, get your beehive hairdos and miniskirts ready, Kirk is in the hizzy!
  • Rambus (Score:1, Troll)

    by lanner (107308)
    That's great, it'll be like Rambus. We all remember how great that was.
  • ...the chips cost six times as much as normal ones.
  • The hard-disk is the performance bottle-neck for so many users on desktop, that faster, lower latency and affordable storage would be a real boon.

    Perhaps flash drives will not have the sheer storage volume of current magnetic disks in near future, but even if they can be used widely as a primary OS + Application installation drive, it will still benefit a great majority of people on desktop.

    Servers (particularly the database which is a frequent bottleneck) and notebook computer of course will also reap th

  • Most flash cards have a seek time of 10 ms.... It would be nice if you could get big flash cards with very low seek times..
    • by JimboFBX (1097277)
      Flash cards don't have a seek time at all... How could they? It doesn't have any moving parts.
      • by emj (15659)
        Try do random access on the next USB-flash stick you have access too.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by tlhIngan (30335)

          Try do random access on the next USB-flash stick you have access too.

          That's a USB issue, not a flash issue.

          The reason is that USB does things in transactions, and has to schedule all the transactions with priority. This is because of USB's fundamental flaw - it requires the host to poll devices. So a host will poll interrupt devices first, then handle isochronous transfers (bandwidth and time dependent traffic). Leftover bandwidth is then allocated to control and then bulk traffic. A USB host can do this on

          • by emj (15659)
            Thanks for the info, it was very helpfull. I have used CF cards on IDE, but never managed to have one that is fast enough to even get close to 10ms "seek" time, and recently I read some specs about a new 333x CF and it said quite clearly 8ms seek time...

            I do understand why there shouldn't be any seek times on random access memory, but really there is a big difference between RAM and Flash. I mean AFAIK most flash drives are made from blocks of memory and I can understand if you would have to make the cont
  • filesystem (Score:2, Insightful)

    by yupa (751893)
    This is great, but we realy miss filesystem for such big NAND.
    Either we use FTL [1](flash translation layer) to put FAT, but that that's quite ugly (FAT is not aware of flash and not robust to power lost, FTL is optimized for FAT).
    Either we put flash filesystem like jffs2 or yaffs2, but they will eat lot's of RAM and take lot's of time on such big flash.

    I wonder what are the performance with a filesystem.

    PS : there is logfs or ubifs that should be better flash fs, but there are not ready.

    [1] BTW FTL is pate
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Most flash devices now spread writes to the device using the controller. There is no real need anymore for those kind of file systems. Yes, current devices use FAT. Anything supports FAT and it is easy to implement in small devices (e.g. camera's, phones etc). But you can just as easily put in NTFS, or EXT2/3.
  • Odd how improvements come gratuitously -- when they're not even really needed. Flash has improved by leaps and bounds over the past few years, to the point that HD-less PCs can be made. Especially on Linux which tends to take asmaller OS footprint.

    Flash has always been relatively fast (slowed by USB 1.1 "interface". Now maybe USB 3.0 is needed or PATA/SATA internal boxes.

    One place this may really help is cameras. The shutter lag is still bad, and this might help.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ColdWetDog (752185)

      One place this may really help is cameras. The shutter lag is still bad, and this might help.

      If it's shutter lag that bothers you, get a decent camera. Today. Flash RAM isn't the problem here. ANY DSLR made in the past five years has quite acceptable shutter lag for most people. The higher end models have shutter latencies better than any "normal" camera ever made. There are even a couple of point & shoots with reasonable speeds. Check out the reviews on DP Reviews [dpreview.com].

      Happy snapping.

    • by TheLink (130905)
      "Flash has always been relatively fast"

      I haven't seen many reasonably priced flash drives with _write_ speeds faster than 5MB/sec. If you have please let me know which ones, and some authoritative specs would be nice.

      The old fashioned HDDs via USB can easily do 20MB/sec.
      • OCZ and Corsair make some high performance USB drives. Corsair's red Voyager GT (Not the standard blue one) gets over 20MB/sec write. Of course, "reasonably priced" may be a stretch... they're about double the price of much slower drives.

        Per Corsair "Ram Guy" forums:

        "The average read and write for a
        4 G GT FV 25.5mbs Wite and 34 Mbs Read
        Non GT 4G FV is 2.2mbs Write and 19.2mbs Read."

        (Reference: http://www.asktheramguy.com/v3/showthread.php?t=65150&highlight=voyager+speed [asktheramguy.com])

        Corsair appears
        • by TheLink (130905)
          Funny I can't find the GT product listed on Corsair's website!

          Unfortunately I don't know any "brick and mortar" stores in my area that sell it either :(. I guess everyone else doesn't care about write speed.
  • by benow (671946)
    Slightly off topic, but does anyone know the status of cachefs within the kernel? CacheFS [wikipedia.org] was designed as a transparent generic cache for network files systems... nfs, etc. A read would pull into the cache and subsequent reads would come from cache.. so, a cache. It was designed for network filesystems, but I'm thinking it might apply to local file systems also. Specifically the cache could sit on a ram or flash based drive and pull off local hd's. As such, the commonly used bits (libs, etc) would resi
  • Fucking Finally. Thank God.

    SSD's have been the most overhyped and overpriced pieces of shit since day one. We can't go a few weeks without some magazine/online publication spewing the propaganda to people, and especially gamers, that SSD's are the Holy Grail of performance.

    I felt like coming downstairs on Christmas day to see my parents brutally butchered, the dog raped, and my presents smashed right before the jerk leans down and tells me that there is no Santa Claus... and he killed the Tooth Fairy and
    • I felt like coming downstairs on Christmas day to see my parents brutally butchered, the dog raped, and my presents smashed right before the jerk leans down and tells me that there is no Santa Claus... and he killed the Tooth Fairy and shoved her up the Easter Bunny's ass
      That's pretty disturbing for a response to an article about silicon. Got issues?
      • by EdIII (1114411)
        It was not in response to the article exactly :)

        I was just expressing how deeply I was disappointed when SSD drives did not live up to their hype. You can search for whatever benchmark test you want to use, but the accepted value I am working with is an average of 8x slower write speeds.

        That's significant. Unless the write speeds improve, which the technology in the article can go a long way to doing so, SSDs are just not practical for most situations. Even less affordable when you are not getting that p
  • (begin obligatory esoteric Jab),, Hey!,, Steve Case!,, I bet you didn't expect to see something like this come from Boise,,,, did ya!! (End obligatory esoteric jab)

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