Micron and Intel have developed an entirely new class of nonvolatile memory that can help turn immense amounts of data into valuable information in real time called 3D XPoint™.
3D Xpoint™ technology wafers are currently running in production lines at Intel Micron Flash Technologies fab (image: Intel)
The huge leap forward is enabled by innovations like the cross point array structure. This means that perpendicular conductors connect 128 billion densely packed memory cells. Each memory cell stores a single bit of data. This compact structure results in high performance and high density.
Another feature paves the way for future generations of the technology which will be able to stack more than two memory layers (the initial technology stores 128Gb per die across two layers) and/or use traditional lithographic pitch scaling to increase die capacity.
3D XPoint memory cells are accessed and written or read by varying the amount of voltage sent to each selector. This eliminates the need for transistors, increasing capacity and reducing cost.
The new technology is able to switch states faster than any existing nonvolatile memory technologies today due to small cell size, fast switching selector, low-latency cross point array and fast write algorithm.
All together this adds up to a memory technology providing up to 1,000 times lower latency and exponentially greater endurance than NAND. 3D XPoint technology can deliver game-changing performance for big data applications. Its ability to enable high-speed, high-capacity data storage close to the processor creates new possibilities for system architects and promises to enable entirely new applications.
Intel and Micron invented unique material compounds and a cross point architecture for a memory technology that is 10 times denser than conventional memory. (image: Intel)
To technical to grab the quintessence of this new technology? No worries, Intel is offering some fun facts to imagine the new possibilities:
3D XPoint technology is up to 1,000x faster than NAND. In other words: The Great Wall of China could have been built in 73 days instead of 200 years – maybe they should have hired some Micron and Intel guys!
HDD latency is measured in milliseconds, NAND latency is measured in microseconds, and 3D XPoint technology latency is measured in nanoseconds (one-billionth of a second)!
In the time it takes an HDD to sprint the length of a basketball court, NAND could finish a marathon, and 3D XPoint technology could nearly circle the globe.
3D XPoint technology has up to 1,000x the endurance of NAND. Here is a translation of what this means: If 3D XPoint technology were your car’s engine oil, you would need an oil change a lot less often: once every 3,000,000 miles – the equivalent of driving around the world at the equator 120 times, or close to once around the sun.
Watch the Intel/Micron Webcast introducing 3D XPoint:
Infographic: What is 3D Xpoint™ Technology