Intel Combines Optane Options with New Processor Class [Byline]

TORONTO — Only months after announcing it would slowly wind down its 3D Xpoint collaboration with Micron Technology, Intel Corp. has outlined where it sees the persistent memory delivering the most benefits.

Its latest data center strategy includes two new members of its Xeon process family. The Xeon E-2100 processor is available immediately, while its Cascade Lake advanced performance processor will be released in the first half of next year.

The E-2100 processor is aimed at small- and medium-size business and cloud service providers to support workloads on entry-level servers, as well as across all computing segments for sensitive workloads that need enhanced data protections. Cascade Lake, however, is a new class of scalable Xeon processor, said Lisa Spelman, vice president and general manager of Intel Xeon products and data center marketing.

Read the full story on EE Times.

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors.

DRAM Boom and Bust is Business as Usual [Byline]

Boom or bust. It’s long been the cycle for established memory technologies. As 3D NAND pricing softens, DRAM still appears to be going strong. But for how long? And will these ups and downs always be the norm despite diversified demand and emerging vendors from China?

One key characteristic of the DRAM market is that there are currently only three major suppliers — Micron Technology, SK Hynix and Samsung Electronics.

“They’re keeping a pretty tight rein on their capacity,” said Brian Matas, vice president of market research at IC Insights, said in a telephone interview with EE Times. “And at the same time, there’s also pretty strong demand for higher performance and higher-density parts, particularly from the data center and server applications.”

Read my EE Times story.

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors.

Intel’s 3D XPoint Plans Clearer Than Micron’s [Byline]

TORONTO — What the future holds for 3D XPoint — now that Intel and Micron have announced plans to end their joint development program — depends on who you talk to.

Or who you don’t talk to. Micron, for its part, isn’t offering any more guidance right now beyond what was stated in a joint news release issued earlier this week. “The companies have agreed to complete joint development for the second generation of 3D XPoint technology, which is expected to occur in the first half of 2019,” the statement reads. “Technology development beyond the second generation of 3D XPoint technology will be pursued independently by the two companies in order to optimize the technology for their respective product and business needs.”

Intel is still bullish on the technology. In a telephone interview with EE Times, Bill Leszinske, vice president of Intel’s non-volatile memory solutions group, said it makes sense for Intel to continue on its present path.

Read my full EE Times story

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors.

Micron CEO Durcan to Retire [Byline]

Micron Technology Inc. CEO Mark Durcan announced his pending retirement Thursday (Feb. 2). No timeframe has been set for Durcan’s retirement, but he will continue to head the company as CEO for the time being.

Micron (Boise, Idaho) said its board of directors has formed a special committee to oversee the succession process and has initiated a search, with the assistance of an executive search firm, to identify and vet candidates. Durcan has pledged to help with the search process and the transition. Read my full article on EE Times.

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors.

Persistent Memory Platform Support Will Take Time [Portfolio]

TORONTO — Over the last several years, there’s been an increasing overlap between what was traditionally seen as memory and traditionally seen as storage, as well as the increasing use of persistent memory.

Last week’s Persistent Memory Summit in San Jose, organized by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) as part of its Solid State Storage Initiative (SSSI), included a presentation by Steve Pawlowski, vice president of advance computing solutions at Micron, outlining how computing architectures must change to get the right data to the processor efficiently and how persistent memory such as NVDIMMs can play a role.

EE Times spoke to Pawlowski following his SNIA keynote on why new computing architectures must support current software applications, the current roadmap for NV-DIMMs, and what might be the non-volatile memory of choice down the road.

Read my full Q+A on EE Times.

Micron’s Successful Quarter Reflects 3D NAND Progress [Portfolio]

TORONTO — Financial analysts attending yesterday’s quarterly update from Micron Technology were congratulating the company on its strong numbers, but the real story might be that it’s mastered 3D NAND.

“What’s encouraging is where they are with their 3D NAND,” said Jim Handy, principal analyst with Objective Analysis. In a telephone interview with EE Times after Micron’s Q1 2017 conference call, he noted that other vendors, particularly Samsung, have struggled with 3D NAND, whereas Micron appears to making good progress. “Micron’s transition time is going to be longer than other technologies because they have to buy new equipment.”

That includes whole new factory in Singapore, noted Handy. “There’s something that eluded everyone else that Micron seems to have got right.” He speculates that its decision to use a floating gate process might have been a factor, as other vendors went the charge trap route. “I wouldn’t be at all surprised that Micron has shown everyone the need to go with floating gate instead of charge trap.”

Read my full article on EE Times.

New Consortium Drives Micron’s Xccela Bus [Portfolio]

TORONTO – Micron Technology’s recently launched Xccela Consortium is ostensibly aimed at promoting its high-speed, low signal count octal interface bus and ecosystem, but at least one early member of the group sees as also being necessary for unifying a fragmented market for NOR flash technology that supports the growing market for instant-on applications.

“Serial NOR flash has pretty much diversified over the past decade,” said Mike Chen, GigaDevice Semiconductor’s senior director of technical marketing, in an interview with EE Times. “Everyone has their ideas to and is designing their own product based on their customer needs. Everyone has their own ideas.”

This has led to complicated product lines, Chen said. Based on customer feedback from the field, he said having a standard would make his life much easier. “We see a need in this product line to have some sort of unification,” he said.

Read my full article on EE Times.

Micron’s 3D NAND Hits Enterprise SSDs [Portfolio]

TORONTO — Micron Technology is declaring spinning disk dead with the introduction of its first solid state drives (SSDs) using its 3D NAND for the enterprise market.

All-flash storage array vendors such as Violin Memory and others have been pushing the message that hard drives are dead for a number of years now, Micron sees spinning media winding down because its new 5100 line of enterprise SATA SSDs are able to offer a lower total cost of ownership (TCO), said Scott Shadley, the company’s principal technologist for its storage business.

In a telephone interview with EE Times, he said the launch of the 5100 series comes on the heels of the company’s success in the client segment with 1100 series of SSDs using Micron’ 3D technology. Shadley acknowledges it isn’t the first to then enterprise market with 3D NAND SSDs, but said Micron is looking to be strategic with its offerings.

Read my full article on EE Times.