Intel and Micron's XPoint: Is it PCM? We think it is

What do you think? Micron wasn't super-clear


Does 3D XPoint memory use phase change memory (PCM) technology or not?

After IMTF co-chair Guy Blalock said XPoint uses a chalcogenide material, like Phase-Change Memory (PCM), your storage correspondent sent a mail to Intel and Micron saying:

“According to my understanding phase-change memory is a non-volatile, chalcogenide material exhibiting a bulk change in state (crystyalline<->amorphous) when appropriate electricity is applied, which changes its resistance level, which level then indicates a binary 1 or 0.”

“Previously Intel and Micron spokespeople have denied repeatedly that XPoint is a phase-change memory technology, while affirming that the non-volatile material exhibits a bulk change which affects its resistance level.”

“Now Guy Blalock says it is chalcogenide-based. In which case, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, eats like a duck and swims like a duck then it's a duck, and 3D XPoint memory is a phase-change, chalcogenide material.”

“I’d be grateful if Micron could confirm this, or explain how and why XPoint, which is non-volatile, chalcogenide-based, and exhibits a bulk change which affects its resistance level, is not phase-change memory.”

In reply, a Micron spokesperson said: “3D XPoint technology is a new class of non-volatile memory invented by Intel and Micron that relies on resistance change of the bulk material to achieve non-volatility. Unlike Phase Change Memory, 3D XPoint technology uses a unique cross point architecture, enabling it to scale in ways that Phase Change Memory has not been able to accomplish.”

Let's point a textual microscope at this and see what it reveals, which we might find out by what is not said.

  • 3D XPoint technology is a new class of non-volatile memory
  • Invented by Intel and Micron
  • That relies on resistance change of the bulk material to achieve non-volatility
  • Unlike Phase Change Memory, 3D XPoint technology uses a unique cross point architecture
  • Enabling it to scale in ways that Phase Change Memory has not been able to accomplish.

The first three bullet points re-iterate what has already been said.

The next two say that 3D XPoint uses a cross-point architecture to scale in ways that PCM has not been able to achieve.

The text does not say that XPoint is not phase change memory or that it is phase-change memory. It says that it is non-volatile memory used in a cross-point architecture.

The Micron spokesperson has not explained “how and why XPoint, which is non-volatile, chalcogenide-based, and exhibits a bulk change which affects its resistance level, is not phase-change memory.”

Alternatively the spokesperson has done, indirectly, and the only difference between existing phase change memory technologies and 3D XPoint is the cross-point architecture.

Indirectly supporting this view, the spokesperson has not said: “3D XPoint is not phase change memory.”

Our conclusion is that 3D XPoint uses phase change memory. Quod ergo demonstrandum - or we are dummies? ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Cheers ransomware hits VMware ESXi systems
    Now we can say extortionware has jumped the shark

    Another ransomware strain is targeting VMware ESXi servers, which have been the focus of extortionists and other miscreants in recent months.

    ESXi, a bare-metal hypervisor used by a broad range of organizations throughout the world, has become the target of such ransomware families as LockBit, Hive, and RansomEXX. The ubiquitous use of the technology, and the size of some companies that use it has made it an efficient way for crooks to infect large numbers of virtualized systems and connected devices and equipment, according to researchers with Trend Micro.

    "ESXi is widely used in enterprise settings for server virtualization," Trend Micro noted in a write-up this week. "It is therefore a popular target for ransomware attacks … Compromising ESXi servers has been a scheme used by some notorious cybercriminal groups because it is a means to swiftly spread the ransomware to many devices."

    Continue reading
  • Twitter founder Dorsey beats hasty retweet from the board
    As shareholders sue the social network amid Elon Musk's takeover scramble

    Twitter has officially entered the post-Dorsey age: its founder and two-time CEO's board term expired Wednesday, marking the first time the social media company hasn't had him around in some capacity.

    Jack Dorsey announced his resignation as Twitter chief exec in November 2021, and passed the baton to Parag Agrawal while remaining on the board. Now that board term has ended, and Dorsey has stepped down as expected. Agrawal has taken Dorsey's board seat; Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor has assumed the role of Twitter's board chair. 

    In his resignation announcement, Dorsey – who co-founded and is CEO of Block (formerly Square) – said having founders leading the companies they created can be severely limiting for an organization and can serve as a single point of failure. "I believe it's critical a company can stand on its own, free of its founder's influence or direction," Dorsey said. He didn't respond to a request for further comment today. 

    Continue reading
  • Snowflake stock drops as some top customers cut usage
    You might say its valuation is melting away

    IPO darling Snowflake's share price took a beating in an already bearish market for tech stocks after filing weaker than expected financial guidance amid a slowdown in orders from some of its largest customers.

    For its first quarter of fiscal 2023, ended April 30, Snowflake's revenue grew 85 percent year-on-year to $422.4 million. The company made an operating loss of $188.8 million, albeit down from $205.6 million a year ago.

    Although surpassing revenue expectations, the cloud-based data warehousing business saw its valuation tumble 16 percent in extended trading on Wednesday. Its stock price dived from $133 apiece to $117 in after-hours trading, and today is cruising back at $127. That stumble arrived amid a general tech stock sell-off some observers said was overdue.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022