Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New advances in non-volatile memory - PMC, PRAM and NRAM

The end is in sight for spinning rust....

While flash based memory is nibbling at the edges of the disk industry, some new techniques are opening up prospects of even greater capacity and speeds in the next few years.

PMC stands for Programmable Metallization Cell, see this MIT review article.

PRAM stands for Phase-change Random Access Memory, some recent news seems to indicate that good progress is being made on PRAM as well as larger and faster Flash memory.


This SC07 article from The Register states that NRAM stands for Nanotube RAM, the makers claim that they will beat Flash on every metric in a few years time, and several of the big semiconductor companies are looking into the technology.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

More on the Cortex A9

Another update from Ashlee Vance at The Register gives more details on the Cortex A9. They say its a four issue superscalar (the Cortex A8 is dual issue), 8 times the performance of the iPhone CPU, runs at 250mW and should be in devices in around 2010. The A8 was announced in 2005 and three years is a typical lead time for CPU architectures to get into production, so I expect A8 based devices sometime next year, perhaps even a faster iPhone...

There is also some discussion of Intel moving down into this space over the next few years. Excellent! Competition will drive the market to develop faster and I don't personally care what the instruction set is any more (I used to...)

Multicore ARM Chips - Cortex A9

Performance is cranking up, now we have four core ARM chips on the horizon...

Infoworld article on the announcement.

Each of these cores seems to be based on the dual issue 1GHz Cortex A8 design that was announced a few years ago, and which isn't quite shipping yet in products.

So to put this in perspective, the CPU in the Gumstix Verdex and the iPhone is around 600MHz single issue, the Cortex A8 is around three times the raw performance and the new announcement is about twelve times the raw performance. These all seem to be around the same levels of power consumption, in the few hundred milliwatt range.

I would not expect to have the multicore ARM Cortex A9 in actual products in my pocket for a few years, but its good to have a roadmap into the future of millicomputing.