Intel teases thumb-sized 'Compute Sticks,' 3D NAND

November 21, 2014 // 11:46 a.m.

Tags: #3d-nand #arm #atom #compute-stick #embedded #intel #kirk-skaugen #micron #nand-flash #solid-state-drive #solid-state-storage #ssd

Intel has announced updates to its product roadmap which include 'Compute Sticks' the size of a thumb and three-dimensional NAND flash memory for its future solid-state drives.

Speaking during a webcast to investors and media last night, Intel executives revealed the company's plans for the future will include high-density solid-state storage and - in a first for the company - reference designs for ultra-compact x86 machines the size of your thumb. The latter, unveiled by Intel PC Client Group general manager Kirk Skaugen, is expected to feature the company's Atom processor family, a small quantity of local storage and a chunk of memory with a USB input for power and an HDMI output for display along with Wi-FI and Bluetooth for network and peripheral connectivity.

If that sounds familiar, it should: numerous companies have released near-identical devices as add-ons for TVs, typically using system-on-chip processors based on the ARM instruction set architecture and Google's Android operating system. Intel has already declared its intention of fighting ARM and its multitudinous licensees in the mobile market, and it appears that the 'smart-stick' market is next - although Skaugen did not detail the operating system that will run on the gadget when it launches next year.

During the same event, Non-Volatile Memory Group manager Rob Crooke claimed that Intel would be launching its first solid-state storage products to feature three-dimensional NAND flash memory in the second half of 2015. Developed in partnership with Micron, the new memory stacks up to 32 layers of planar NAND flash to produce up to 48GB of storage in a single die - significantly higher than the 16GB offered by Samsung's already-shipping V-NAND equivalent - and forms part of a roadmap which Crooke claimed would lead to 10TB SSDs within 'the next couple of years.'

Crooke did not discuss pricing for the new SSDs, except to say that its production came at a 'disruptive cost' - suggesting that drives based on the new technology are likely to be cheaper for the same capacity than existing planar models from Intel.

More information is available on the Intel Investor Relations site.
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