Thursday, May 31, 2007

Happy Memory Interface Day

On the heels of Memorial Day comes Memory Interface Day. My colleague Mike Clendenin reports today on the official announcement of miCard in Taiwan. And I am playing catch up with the latest twists in the Intel Robeson story about internal flash card modules in PCs.

Specs on the miCard are hot. It plugs into a USB slot, offers 60Mbytes per second in throughput (and headed for a doubling of that) and scales to handle up to a whopping 2,048 Gbytes of capacity.

The spec being published in June has the backing of the MultiMediaCard Association and a raft of Taiwanese card makers. But as pioneers of past formats know there are many twists and turns between a good spec—and even today's mantra of a good user experience—and a volume product. We shall see.


Meanwhile, Intel is working to spread to the industry the design for the Turbo Memory module it created for the latest batch of Centrino notebooks. The Non-Volatile Memory Host Controller Interface that Intel is defining with Dell and Microsoft will pave the way for a standard motherboard controller and later a block in a chip set to manage the internal flash modules any memory card maker can produce.

Work on the spec should be done before the end of the year. That's the about the same time the separate Open NAND Flash Interface group completes its 2.0 spec defining a link at least 3x faster than today's 40 Mbyte/sec flash interface as well as a physical module and connector.

Like the miCard, I'll take a wait-and-see view on whether Intel's Robeson proliferates into a broader industry offering. The idea seems sound but we have yet to see any flash chips using even the ONFI 1.0 interface, and Dell is the only OEM taking part in the new controller work, so it's still early days.

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