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Intel and Micron Double the Capacity of Flash Memory

Smaller features will usher in instant-on computers

3 min read
Intel and Micron Double the Capacity of Flash Memory

16 March 2010—Flash memory stores data permanently without draining the battery, but it packs less data in a given space than hard drives do. It’s looking better, though, now that Intel and Micron Technology have produced a flash chip with features measuring only 25 nanometers, down from the standard 34 nm. Other flash makers are expected to follow into the sub-30-nm region in coming months, as well. By doubling the storage capacity, the achievement makes it possible to produce cheaper and more powerful smart handheld devices. It also shows that flash still has legs and should therefore continue to improve for at least a few more years.

The companies announced that their joint venture, Intel-Micron Flash Technologies (IMFT), would begin selling this ”nonvolatile” memory—which retains data after the current is switched off—in the second quarter of this year. The companies will incorporate it into products, such as USB storage devices, that consumers will see later this year.

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The First Million-Transistor Chip: the Engineers’ Story

Intel’s i860 RISC chip was a graphics powerhouse

21 min read
Twenty people crowd into a cubicle, the man in the center seated holding a silicon wafer full of chips

Intel's million-transistor chip development team

In San Francisco on Feb. 27, 1989, Intel Corp., Santa Clara, Calif., startled the world of high technology by presenting the first ever 1-million-transistor microprocessor, which was also the company’s first such chip to use a reduced instruction set.

The number of transistors alone marks a huge leap upward: Intel’s previous microprocessor, the 80386, has only 275,000 of them. But this long-deferred move into the booming market in reduced-instruction-set computing (RISC) was more of a shock, in part because it broke with Intel’s tradition of compatibility with earlier processors—and not least because after three well-guarded years in development the chip came as a complete surprise. Now designated the i860, it entered development in 1986 about the same time as the 80486, the yet-to-be-introduced successor to Intel’s highly regarded 80286 and 80386. The two chips have about the same area and use the same 1-micrometer CMOS technology then under development at the company’s systems production and manufacturing plant in Hillsboro, Ore. But with the i860, then code-named the N10, the company planned a revolution.

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