Faster chips readied to handle huge data loads

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Faster chips readied to handle huge data loads

Intel and Micron Technology are starting production of new, faster type of memory chip, which they say will change how computers access large amounts of data.

3D XPoint technology is the first new mainstream memory chip to come to market in 25 years, the companies said in a statement Tuesday. The chipmakers will send samples of the product, which was described as being 1,000 times faster than chips currently in use, to potential customers later this year.

The new memory is aimed at making it faster for computers to access and work with the enormous amount of data created by an increasing number of devices connected to one another and to the Internet. It will also help to improve data-intensive tasks such as real-time tracking of diseases and immersive realistic gaming, the companies said. Existing types of memory are either too expensive or aren’t fast enough for such tasks.

“One of the most significant hurdles in modern computing is the time it takes the processor to reach data on long-term storage,” Mark Adams, Micron’s president, said in the statement. “This new class of non-volatile memory is a revolutionary technology that allows for quick access to enormous data sets and enables entirely new applications.”

The new technology is initially most likely to be used by operators of large data centers such as Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. to help boost performance of their servers, said Martin Reynolds, an analyst for Gartner.

“This to them has got to be a fabulous opportunity because they can significantly increase the amount of memory they have in their servers,” he said. “That’s kind of a new market. You could see some new growth to come out of this.”

While Intel and Micron didn’t give details of the materials they’ve used for 3D XPoint, the new memory uses a different structure that’s not based on transistors, the building blocks of integrated circuits for more than four decades. Production will begin at Micron’s Lehi, Utah, plant next year.

Micron and Intel already have a joint venture that produces flash memory used to store data in mobile devices and increasingly also in computers. Micron also makes computer memory - chips that act as the short-term memory of phones and personal computers - competing with South Korea’s Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix.

Intel shares rose 2.2 percent to $28.96 at the close of trading in New York. Micron gained 9 percent to $19.75.

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