Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Tech Link (Industry): Intel "Snowgrass" -- NAND Flash For Your Motherboard

I still don't know the other details of the implementation of this exciting product but DailyTech have some scoop on the mobile front, and some details regarding the implementation on the desktop.

But if this becomes really affordable for the masses, it can redefine the way we use our systems, doing very fast boot up of PC. It is safe to assume that if implemented properly, this will certainly a boon for the enthusiasts. And if this becomes cheap, it'll become so popular for the masses. And if this becomes rock bottom cheap, and technology matures, who knows, it can be integrated as a PC "stock" component.

Solid-state storage finally comes into mass production; although prices are still sky-high

Last week at IDF, we reported that Intel's next major mobile platform, called Santa Rosa, will feature NAND flash memory technology in order to allow devices to startup and execute programs. This technology, dubbed Robson, will improve boot times, reduce paging and be used as a general buffer between storage devices and system memory.

Interestingly, Intel also mentioned that Robson will have a version for desktop computers called Snowgrass. The technology is currently in the works and is planned to be released after Robson. Motherboard makers will have designs that contain a slot designed to take a Snowgrass NAND module. This opens the door for users to customize their motherboards with various sizes of modules for whatever purposes they choose, and also allows the ability to upgrade NAND as it gets less and less expensive. Remember when L2 cache used to sit on the motherboard?

Intel's current Snowgrass specification calls for a modular design, but it now appears that motherboard makers have the option of integrating the technology directly on board. There is no word yet on capacities, but for Snowgrass or Robson to really have any value over the purchase of a faster hard drive, we would have to speculate that the cost of such a module cost less than a few gigabytes of system memory. We would not be surprised if Robson and Snowgrass have similar price points and capacities as USB NAND at the time of launch. Today, 4GB pen drives using NAND flash memory cost approximately $100.


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