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Bright future seen for NAND flash

Jul 30, 2007 — by Jonathan Angel — from the LinuxDevices Archive

More gigabytes of NAND-based storage will ship in 2007 than the sum-total of all DRAM shipped since 1970. This is one of many gems of wisdom found in newly-available online proceedings from Denali Software's recent conference on today's hottest memory and storage technologies, such as DDR DRAM and NAND flash.

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MemCon, held in San Jose from July 17-19, featured speakers from ARM, Freescale, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Samsung, Sandisk, Texas Instruments, and others. A recurring theme of the conference was NAND flash memory, and especially its applicability to SSDs (solid-state drives) and HHDs (hybrid hard drives). Delivering the opening keynote, Mark Gogolewski, CTO of Denali, called this “the biggest transformation in storage in 40 years.”

Lane Mason, memory market analyst for Denali, said more gigabytes of NAND-based storage will ship in 2007 than the sum total of all DRAM memory shipped since 1970. He added that NAND applications up to 2010 will primarily be in SSD/HHD, AV media storage, and advanced phones.

Microsoft software architect Vlad Sadovsky called NAND memory “better disk than disk,” but added that disk and SSD each have their own strengths. Citing a server email application, he said that messages — with their space consumption and heavy workload — are best stored on disk, while indexes and search tables — with their highly random pattern of small writes — are better suited to SSD.

Sadovsky also called for laptops to become solid state, noting that disk drives are the second largest generator of calls to technicians. He compared low-cost storage to free puppies: “Storage is cheap, but storage management is not.”

John Vaglica, a Freescale distinguished member of technical staff, said NAND memory is increasingly critical for smart phones, where memory requirements are doubling or even quadrupling with each generation. With high-MIPS (million instructions per second) processing being moved to accelerators that compete for external memory, latency becomes critical, he added.

Don Verner, senior applications engineer for Intel, said NAND memory is necessary to bridge the performance gap between CPUs and disk storage. He said CPU performance has improved by a favor of 30 since 1996, whereas disk has only improved about 30 percent.

The next MemCon will be held this November in Tokyo. Meanwhile, you can download presentations and other materials from the July 2007 San Jose event by going here (free registration required).


 
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