Intel Forges Alliance with Micron to Reinvent IT
Just about all solution providers go to bed dreaming that when they wake up every customer they have will be in the throes of a major upgrade cycle. Starting sometime in late 2016 and certainly in 2017 that will happen.
About once a decade or so a major disruptive technology appears that changes almost every facet of IT. The next technology destined to drive that level of transformation is a new generation of non-volatile memory technologies. The first instance of these technologies is the Flash memory technology that enabled everything from the building of the Apple iPod and Apple iPhone to entire new classes of enterprise storage systems.
Now Intel (INTC) and Micron (MU) revealed they are collaborating on building a new class of non-volatile memory that is 1,000 times faster than Flash. Known as 3D XPoint technology, the two companies have formed a joint venture that expects to drive the first commercial products using these technologies into the market sometime late next year. Naturally, this new class of memory will show up at price points that are higher than existing DRAM and Flash technologies. But as the ecosystem around these technologies continues to build, prices for this new class of memory will fall. As such, sometime in 2017 the IT industry will reach a point where IT organizations making use of legacy DRAM and Flash technologies will be at a substantially competitive disadvantage than those that don’t. Given how dependent most businesses are on IT, it’s easy to see how a massive wave of IT infrastructure and application upgrades will ensue.
While many instances of advanced non-volatile memory technologies already have been showcased, Scott DeBoer, vice president of Research and Development for Micron, said the difference here is that Intel and Micron have combined their expertise in 3D semiconductor and cross point memory architecture research to create a new class of memory that can be manufactured at scale.
Just as significantly, 3D XPoint provides 10 times the memory density of Flash, which will enable entire databases of big data to reside in memory right next to the processor core. The ability able to perform real-time analytics alongside transactions simultaneously, for example, will transform the way enterprise IT applications as we mainly know them today are built, deployed and managed.
In a world where superlatives such as "disruption" get tossed around on a daily basis, it’s often difficult to discern the significance of one event vs. another. But when solution providers get to the end of this decade they will more than likely remember 2015 as the beginning of a time when everything actually did change utterly.