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Intel-Micron 3D XPoint At Xroads

Back To Square One

A few final notes. We’re obviously anxious to see 3D XPoint in action, and to tell you more about it. We’ll keep pursuing both ends, but it will undoubtedly be a while. Intel and Micron are walking a very interesting and fine line here.

One of the best things Intel did at IDF was to repeat the mantra that 3D XPoint is both bigger memory and faster storage. It doesn’t really unmuddle its future, but it says more exactly what it is—low-latency storage and high-capacity DRAM. Just how far Intel and Micron push the boundaries of latency and capacity will determine how additive or substitutive it will be to the lucrative NAND and DRAM products.

During Micron's winter analyst meeting earlier this year the company showed slides pointing to a 2015/2016 Memory A and a 2017/2018 Memory B. Micron is vocally positioning "Memory B" as its high-performance non-volatile memory product.

When pressed, Crooke claimed not to know anything about a Gen 2 or Memory B, but it’s there clear as day. Either Crooke is being coy, or Intel isn't invested in the forthcoming Memory B. The plot thickens.

At Micron's follow-on Summer Analyst Conference it presented an updated chart that also details the emergence of Memory B, but this time listed as "EM Gen 1" (Emerging Memory). This new form of memory will come after IMFT is already rolling second-generation 3D XPoint.

Every unearthed detail only uncovers more questions, further highlighting how little we actually know about IMFTs 3D XPoint.

In the media we feast on the bafflement and bewilderment, so these are exciting times. I take my sliced bread toasted, with butter and jam...


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Fritz Nelson is the Editor-In-Chief of Tom's Hardware.

Paul Alcorn is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware, covering Storage. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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  • JeanLuc
    Is there any danger of you guys ever fixing how viewers enlarge pictures on your site?

    Seriously I don't know how many times I've commented on this issue but it seems to fall on deaf ears and given this is meant to be one of the larger tech site it's even more absurd.
    Reply
  • Bartendalot
    Very well written piece.

    Seems like it could be positioned as part of the purely platform as a future proofing connector.

    While I don't think we will see true consumer products until 2018 at the earliest, are we looking at the main disruptive tech of the 10nm platform, or later?

    The pressure coming from other market segments might give Intel a reason to get this out quickly.
    Reply
  • megiv
    The most important number is missing : Expected price per GB. I mean, they must have this number roughly already, or else they wouldn't go public with such big announcements
    Reply
  • PaulyAlcorn
    The most important number is missing : Expected price per GB. I mean, they must have this number roughly already, or else they wouldn't go public with such big announcements
    I agree, it is the most important number! IMFT is merely saying that it will be between the price of NAND and DRAM, which gives them plenty of wiggle room - and isn't specific at all.
    Reply
  • Eggz
    I think this is going to be the kind of storage tech upgrade that will have a perceived impact akin to that of the HDD --> SSD tech upgrade - except better. The capacity decrease we felt when switching to SSDs was much more dramatic than that stated in the materials for Xpoint. I really hope it comes to market soon, but this time with a more attractive set of purchase options than early SSDs did.
    Reply
  • Achoo22
    I thought the trend of putting a capital X in a product title in hopes of catching the attention of the hipster crowd died away at the turn of the millennium. Will this product be compatible with XP running on Xtreme Xaggerated Xenthusuiast hardware?
    Reply
  • Blueberries
    10X denser M.2 that's also 1000X faster? My dreams are coming true!
    Reply
  • kancaras
    10X denser M.2 that's also 1000X faster? My dreams are coming true!
    its 10x denser than dram, not nand, nand is also 10x denser than dram. i wouldnt expect affordable ssds with 3d Xpoint anytime soon. maybe cheaper but abit slower ram?
    Reply
  • turkey3_scratch
    16749024 said:
    Is there any danger of you guys ever fixing how viewers enlarge pictures on your site?

    Seriously I don't know how many times I've commented on this issue but it seems to fall on deaf ears and given this is meant to be one of the larger tech site it's even more absurd.

    Just right-click on the image and select "open image in new tab" to see it in full.
    Reply
  • SteelCity1981
    looks like high speed storage is about to get a lot cheaper with xpoint if it can hold a lot more capacity than DRAM. might end of being the final nail in the coffin for HDD.
    Reply