Intel builds flash memory tech into chipsets

June 7, 2009

Intel builds flash memory tech into chipsetsIntel is once again betting on flash memory to boost performance, this time planning to build the technology into it’s first chipset-on-a-chip architecture as well as new multi-chip configurations.

The new architecture, codenamed “Braidwood,” accelerates I/O accesses by saving it to flash memory, according to Rob Crooke, vice president and general manager of Intel’s Business Client Group. As part of a show and tell at Computex, Crooke showed Braidwood, saying it was “caching the I/O… And then, when it launches that application again, it happens very quickly.”

Describing the technology, Crooke said, “Braidwood is a flash memory technology that provides faster boot-up time, faster application launch, and a snappier, more responsive system.” Braidwood will be included with the future “5 Series” chipset series, which is Intel’s first single-chip chipset, and the new “Clarkdale” processor family.

This will be Intel’s second attempt at using flash memory to speed up applications on a chipset, according to a CNET story. They brought out a product similar in 2006 which became known as Turbo Memory. The descriptions of that product were much like those being used to today to describe Braidwood, but the 2006 technology did not get very far in the marketplace.

The Intel “5 series” family of processors noted above are an innovative lineup of CPUs that do away with the normal memory bus arrangement by putting the memory gates directly on the processor itself. This is thought to be the wave of the future for Intel, since it allows much more rapid transfer of information between the processor and memory.

The Clarkdale family, which are Nehalem-based processors, will also be shipped with Braidwood technology. The Clarkdale family will integrate graphics into the same package as the main processor, eliminating the need for a separate graphics processor. The  “5 series” technology has been running late, with the Clarkdale due to start shipping sometime in early 2010. The delays may be due to early problems with Intel’s second-generation 32-nanometer process technology.

This and similar delays have caused Valley wags to lament once again that Intel has no real competition at the moment. It is felt that if AMD, or a company like them, could offer substantial competition, it would push Intel to more innovation, and also force them to meet announced deadlines. The CPU business is too critical an industry to let it be a virtual monopoly.

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