I’ve spent a large percentage of my time lately discussing emerging memory (EM) with a broad range of customers, operating system vendors (OSVs) and independent software vendors (ISVs). Because their questions are very similar, I think it’s a good idea to collect and answer them here in the Micron Storage blog. I figure there may be other inquiring minds looking for a little education on the hot topic of EM. So here it goes …
What is an EM?
It’s a “new” memory technology that is being developed with the goal of either extending a memory technology’s capabilities or eventually replacing the technology all together—or sometimes both. Scalability beyond the incumbent is a critical requirement.
Which EM will be first to emerge?
Micron is working on several different EM technologies and is not disclosing which EM will likely be the first to emerge. We certainly do have our favorites, though.
What are the characteristics of an EM?
Since most technologies being investigated have resistive storage elements vs. electron-based, their characteristics are all within a 2–3X factor of each other. With that said, the characteristics place most somewhere between NAND and DRAM. The industry has called this storage-class memory or SCM.
When will an EM actually emerge?
Likely before you will be able to take FULL advantage of them. While this answer is a little “tongue-in-cheek,” the characteristics of an EM mean that significant changes to hardware and software will be required to get the most value out of the technology.
Will the EM’s cost be relative to NAND and DRAM?
This is my favorite question to answer. I, of course, understand the cost relative to NAND and DRAM very well. But that’s not what customers really want to know … They want to know price, and my answer is that the market will set the price. With that said, it isn’t hard to figure out that the market price will be somewhere between NAND and DRAM.
Perhaps I didn’t answer your question? Or maybe I was a bit too coy. If you’d like to continue the conversation, send us a tweet at @micronstorage! As you can imagine, we likely won’t be able to answer every question.