Rein­vent­ing In­tel

Will faster data stor­age and chips with built-in lasers help turn In­tel around?

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS - – MIT Tech­nol­ogy

THE WORLD’S big­gest chip­maker says it’s time to start build­ing com­put­ers dif­fer­ently. In­tel ex­ec­u­tives re­cently showed off two new tech­nolo­gies for stor­ing data and mov­ing it around that could shake up estab­lished ways of de­sign­ing com­put­ers. The new tech­nolo­gies are pri­mar­ily be­ing tar­geted at the gi­ant data cen­tres that power mo­bile apps, web­sites, and emerg­ing ideas in ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence. They could also ap­pear in con­sumer prod­ucts.

In­tel needs some new mar­kets. In April, the com­pany an­nounced it was lay­ing off 12,000 work­ers and aban­don­ing mak­ing chips for mo­bile de­vices, a huge mar­ket In­tel missed out on. The com­pany has also had to slow the pace at which it brings out new gen­er­a­tions of smaller tran­sis­tors, a trend that has un­der­pinned the in­dus­try and In­tel’s busi­ness for decades.

One of In­tel’s new tech­nolo­gies is a form of data stor­age that’s faster than the flash disks used in lap­tops and data cen­tres to­day. In­tel calls it Op­tane. It is based on tech­nol­ogy called 3D Xpoint, de­vel­oped in col­lab­o­ra­tion with mem­ory man­u­fac­turer Mi­cron. In­tel has not dis­closed how 3D Xpoint works, but it is be­lieved to write data by heat­ing a glass-like “phase change” ma­te­rial. In­tel says it will launch Op­tane disks in 2016 and mem­ory chips that fit into the same slots as a com­puter’s RAM in 2017. It says an Op­tane drive can lo­cate and ac­cess a piece of data in a tenth the time a flash disk, or SSD, would need.

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