Thursday, June 11, 2015
The new memory from Nantero, called NRAM (nonvolatile RAM), is based on carbon nanotubes. The memory is hundreds of times faster than flash storage used in mobile devices and SSDs, claimed Greg Schmergel, CEO of the company.
Carbon nanotubes are cylinders made out of carbon atoms, with a diameter of one to two nanometers. The nanotubes are known to be stronger than steel, and better conductors of electricity than other known materials used in chips, making the technology an excellent candidate for storage and memory.
Nantero's NRAM operates at the speed of DRAM and is nonvolatile, meaning it can store data. The small size of carbon nanotubes allows more data to be crammed into tighter spaces, and the storage chips will consume significantly less power than flash storage and DRAM. That could bring more storage and longer battery life to laptops and mobile devices…
Nantero, which was formed in 2001, has spent 14 years refining carbon nanotubes, which has been researched for decades by universities, the U.S. government and companies like IBM and Intel. Many top chip and device makers have shown interest in NRAM, which is now ready for manufacturing, Schmergel said…
Nantero won't make the NRAM, but license the technology to device makers and manufacturers. The first NRAM chips will appear as DRAM-compatible modules that can be plugged directly into memory slots on motherboards.
"We are designing chips that are DDR3 and DDR4 compatible, you just put in carbon-nanotube memory," Schmergel said.
Devices makers will be able to put carbon-nanotube storage on top of NAND flash circuitry so it fits in mobile devices and PCs. The technology will be compatible with storage, memory systems and protocols that exist today, Schmergel said.
The NRAM chips should arrive in the next few years, Schmergel said, adding that chip and device makers are designing the memory into new products. '
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
However, "soon" isn't "now". It's going to be a confusing and expensive journey before the promises are fulfilled.
The last piece in the jigsaw fell into place yesterday at Computex, and cemented the USB-C socket as the winner. Intel announced that the third generation of Thunderbolt will support USB-C plugs.
So only one kind of plug is needed to support power, video and audio, and high-throughput data peripherals such as disk drives.
But that doesn't mean one cable will support everything: there will be several different kinds of USB-C supporting different capabilities, ensuring confusion continues for some time to come.
The reason is obvious to the tech-savvy, but less so for the typical user who has wandered into PC World on a Saturday morning. The plugs may be the same, but the capabilities are defined by the gadgets at each end of it.
Since the expense is defined by the capabilities of the host controller, it all depends on how much the market-conscious manufacturer wanted to spend.
Most people who'll see a USB-C socket won't be getting Thunderbolt 3 performance, as the Thunderbolt hardware is a luxury-priced item that will continue to be in high-performance hardware, rather than the value mass-market.
So the industry is moving to "one plug", but retains lots of different standards. At least in the bad old days, you knew you couldn't plug your projector monitor into the modem port and expect it to work. It wouldn't fit.'