Flash memory ever to replace HDD?



Intel announced (at IDF Taiwan) Robson technology that reduces booting time by transferring some of the works done mostly by HDDs to NAND flash memory kits.


At the event in Taipei, Intel also introduced its future mobile platform technology codenamed Robson. The technology, which is now under development, aims to extend battery life, accelerate system boot-up and provide user-visible responsiveness, said vice president of Intel’s mobility group and general manager of the mobile platforms group Shmuel (Mooly) Iden.

The Robson technology has no fixed timeframe to appear in commercial systems because it depends on OEMs, according to Iden. Its key element is a non-volatile memory cache implemented with NAND flash memory, and user benefits include longer battery life, shorter boot-up times and faster launching of applications. The solution is also supposed to comprise software drivers. Iden said that Robson will utilize NAND flash memory chips sized at up to 4GB. However, he declined to talk in details about implementations.

Iden also did not confirm that Robson will add another deep sleep mode, with even less power consumption compared to Yonah’s new enhanced deeper sleep mode, but agreed that using non-volatile memory cache potentially opens more opportunities for power saving through, for example, transferring content of CPU registers out of a processor. More technical details about Robson will be disclosed at IDF Spring, he added.

blah blah…

Seems similar to the “Hybrid” disk Microsoft and Samsung announced a while ago. At this moment, Samsung Electronics is the largest supplier of NAND type flash memory. As flash memory kits will surely add cost to overall systems, they’ll probably first be used in more expensive portable computers weighing under 2kg and running Yonah dual-core processors.

The Italicized parts are quoted from DigiTimes.com webpage linked above.


Between posting on different places, maybe I didn’t place the quotation tags correctly. (Of course, I can’t edit now.) Help yourself by clicking the original link. :slight_smile:



The cost is nearly the same as a MICRO HARD DRIVE. Regular hard drives are still absurdly cheap by comparison.


Well they are being used in laptops for kids in poor countries I just read about it in ComputerActive magazine here in the UK. They are making these laptops available for about £57 ($100US). Ofcourse they come with open source as opposed to Windows, so maybe that is the reason they can use flash memory.


They don’t. Their weaknesses lie in the spindle motors and head crashes, not write cycles. Which is exactly why they won’t disappear anytime soon, at least not until flash memory starts having the write cycle tolerance of standard RAM.


Do you want such a “regular” HDD which alone weighs nearly 1kg on your mobile phone or credit card? Ask Seagate where their market is moving.


$35 display sounds very nice. Even the LCD on my Samsung SPH-S2300 costs at least 3x more which isn’t really practical. :frowning: I’m looking for used and new LCD panels to replace the (broken) ones on my notebooks and desktop LCD monitors. Seems some shops have a little over 50 types from 12-inch to 15.4-inch. 15.4-inch panels cost a lot. Anyway, that looks like an MIT initiative.


Another related article from today’s DigiTimes.com English-translated webpages.


[I]After rising for the first time this year in September, contract prices for mainstreams NAND flash segments all trended down again in October, with the 4Gbit segment suffering the largest drop at more than 9%, according to DRAMeXchange. Flash makers striving for a larger market share to compete with market leader Samsung Electronics were the chief factor for the price decrease, sources noted.

The sources explained that newer entrants into the market are aggressively offering competitive pricing to attract more PC OEM orders, which in turn has sparked price competition and dragged contract prices down in October. Leading players including Samsung and rival Hynix Semiconductor have followed suit with price reductions as well.

With reference to the latest contract price update, high-density flash (4Gbit and above) suffered the largest drops, ranging from 4-9%. Industry observers commented that these high-density flash parts already have relatively higher margins and makers have room for price reductions. In addition, lowering high-density flash prices should attract more business.[/I]

Room for price reductions for “high-density” flash parts means 8Gbit chips that are for 40.8 USDs now should cost a lot less in next year. Good, I want 8GB-16GB miniSD cards for my phones and cameras.

BTW, latest flash chips have a lot higher transfer rates than those earlier-generation ones so you need one of the fast cards to store 640*480 30fps MPEG-4 with stereo audio in real time. Quite many people just a few years ago said flash memory doesn’t need USB 2.0 because flash is so slow (under 1MB/s then.)


It’s not flash but regular DDR RAM. Consisting of 64 K4H1G0838M-TCB3 (Samsung 1Gbit) chips on Gigabyte’s i-RAM PCI card.

Original article at:


8GB for nearly US$7,000.


I expected this nefore oe at the same time as the new OS was going to be released but I guess not. I do think it will be better than magnetic drives and being digital and all. We just must wait on those prices as mentioned prior.


As this old thread comes back:
No, I don’t think so. It might be a replacement for CD-RW, DVD[U]+[/U]RW and DVD-RAM-like formats. But R media and hard disks will never die.
Besides, flash memory data is harder to recover. I always stick discs unreadable in one of my two drives into the other - and then it often DOES work.


I do not think it will replace but it will always be there to compliment even if someday it is available in extremely large capapcity, it will make an awesome carry around backup drive no matter where you go or whom you want to share with.


16Gbit NAND flash chips now cost just US$30. They first appeared in 2005. A bit over US$60 in early 2006. About US$30 in June. Still falling further. 16Gbit is 2GB. Transcend 8GB CF in the US costs about US$160. What’s most important in all this is the rate of development. Perhaps Intel is even more ambitious as some websites posted information regarding 32-core Intel processors in 2010 that are like 16 Woodcrests in one package manufactured under 32nm processes. (Current Woodcrests and Yonahs are manufactured under 65nm processes.)


Flash is defintely the future…just fix the durability in retaining memory and expand the
capacity of memory…


Flash was only designed as a fast EEPROM originally, and its roots in that still show. They’ve upped the write-cycles considerable on the different types (NAND or NOR, I forget which one), and on a large Flash array with an Intelligent mapper it can easily last as long as a hard disk.

However, it’s still slow and cannot cope with excessive read/writes as well as a hard disk array. Also, despite what people day, is still the most expensive storage format outside of exotic/experimental formats, and has the among the worst cost/MB of all of them.
At time of writing, a 250GB HD will set you back about £70 a drive.
That’d get you about 4GBs of Flash, 8GB if you risk a shady eBay seller :wink:
8GB vs 250GB for the same price…

The gap will narrow - Flash costs are plummeting (I remember when 1GB Flash would cost about £350!! ;)), but HD manufacturers are also moving and they reckon we’ll be seeing 1TB drives within the next year.

The biggest advantage of Flash over ALL other Media is that they are teeny tiny little things. People put them into everything these days; Dolls, Stuffed Bears, Swiss Army Knives… I bet theres a vibrator somewhere with a Flash chip stuck in it :stuck_out_tongue:

The portability has been a big win for it - IMHO Flash cards have become the True successor to Floppy Disks - Some people still reckon CD/DVD is but clearly that is bollocks since you can’t access them so easily (And don’t quote RAM/MountRainer/PacketWriting at me or I’ll set your crotch on fire!!).

Of course, you still can’t boot off them (easily), nor can you load SCSI/SATA/RAID drivers off them during a Windows install (I actually had to install a REAL 40-pin drive to do that the other day; Couldn’t even use a USB floppy drive!! RETARDED!!!), but for all intents and purposes…


I’ve heard that the write cycles on flash memory is about 10,000~1,000,000 erase/writes. Somehow I feel the virtual ram of OS is going to kill it before it’s of use.


Seeing you have 250 and 500GB hard drive and soon Terrabyte HDD, I think it is VERY unlikely it will completly replace a HDD - I mean 16GB flash RAM, that’s barely enough to install VISTA nowadays ;-))) But seriously, they will take the load off of hard drives that’s for sure as they will be included in hybrid drives - Imagine the operating system being able to use the flash portion of the drive as the swap file instead of using your HDD. Imagine for consecutive writes of many small files, but it will NOT completly replace the HDD, there is A LONG LONG, VERY LONG WAY to go until flash memory becomes as fast as today’s hard drives for both sustained read and writes ;D


Basically we’re comparing apples & oranges. Different applications such as transfer rate, durability, and volatility. I believe hi-density flash could be quite successful in laptops due to low power consumption, better shock-proof, and also $$$: the laptop market commands higher profit margins. But by far, this will be the most expensive, more than HDD and optical disc, so we’ll see as the technology unfolds. Here is an informative article comparing these 3 storage devices [B]HDD vs FLASH vs Optical Disc[/B], their pros and cons, cost per GB, etc… http://disceraser.com/news.htm


Interesting article! Thanks for posting a link. :slight_smile:

I think the article is a little too optimistic about the durability of optical media, because it claims that CDs will only degrade when exposed to UV, which we know isn’t true - there are other factors which will make recorded optical media degrade, such as e.g. heat and humidity, unstable dye, and bad bonding.

The example of losing data on Flash drive due to unplugging it without using the Safely Remove Hardware tool would also apply equally to hard-drive backups.


What in the world??
I’m not even going to… Oh heck
DVD’s > Flash RAM for main hard drive purposes?

I’m not even going to go into the technical reasons why your statement didn’t make sense. Flash RAM has a much higher reusability factor than DVD’s, not to mention access times…