Intel occupies itself in silicon space

18 March 2008

It has been a busy time for Intel as the processor giant announced a 65nm processor packed with transistors, and two memory joint ventures with Micron and STMicroelectronics.

At last month’s ISSCC (International Solid State Circuits Conference) in San Francisco, a chip with more than two billion transistors has been launched by Intel. The quad-core chip, known as Tukwila, is designed for high-end servers rather than personal computers. It operates at speeds of up to 2GHz, equivalent to many PC chips.

The Tukwila Itanium processor is expected to have 30MByte of cache, and reliability, availability, serviceability(RAS) features. Tukwila is based on 65nm technology and will be aimed at the enterprise and server space.

High-speed NAND flash memory technology that offers data transfer speeds five times faster than conventional NAND, has been developed by IM Flash Technologies, a joint venture of Micron and Intel.

The 8GByte single-level cell memory technology is currently being tested by OEMs and controller manufacturers. The company expects to soon begin mass production of highspeed NAND technology. The technology should enable accelerated download rates and quicker information access across enterprise hardware systems, applications, video and mobile devices.

According to Micron, the new SLC high-speed NAND can race up to 200MByte/sec for reading data and 100MByte/sec for writing data using the open NAND flash interface working groups 2.0 standard and a four-plane architecture running greater clock speeds. For comparison, Bill Lauer, senior director of marketing for Micron’s memory group noted that traditional SLC-based NAND is restricted to achieving speeds of just 40MByte/sec to read data, and up to 20MByte/sec to write data. Micron plans to use its high-speed NAND to augment speeds of interface standards such as PCI Express and USB 3.0, which are still in development.

Finally, Numonyx, the Intel and STMicroelectronics memory company, began shipping prototype samples using a new memory technology called PCM (phase change memory).

The prototypes are the first functional silicon to be delivered to customers for evaluation. The memory device, codenamed Alverstone, uses PCM, providing very fast read and write speeds at lower power than conventional flash.

Alverstone is a 128Mbit device built on 90nm and is intended to enable memory customers to evaluate PCM features; allowing cellular and embedded customers to learn more about PCM and how it can be incorporated into their future system designs.

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