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Balancing Act Also Extends to Memory

Intel’s re-entrance with Nokia into the embedded mobile phone business will be a delicate balancing act, as Ed Sperling points out (see main article). But this is nothing new for Intel, as they are making a similar incursion into the memory industry.


Recently, Intel demonstrated Braidwood – a flash memory-based accelerator that caches I/O directly from the processor to enable much faster boot-up times. It will be part of Intel’s upcoming “5 Series” chipset family.


Braidwood is seen by some as a technology that will compete with current board-level Solid State Drive (SSD) devices – another market in which Intel is a player. Talk about a balancing act.


Many industry observers see Braidwood as the successor to Intel’s past Turbo Memory initiative which was less than successful in the commercial market. Why re-enter the memory market again? If Braidwood is as fast as advertised, then it might offer a cheaper alternative to SSD which is still relatively expensive compared to traditional DRAM motherboard memory. Naturally, other performance characteristics must also be considered like power consumption, operational conditions, and the like.


Why should this technology be of interest to embedded designers?  Granted, Braidwood is squarely aimed at the leading edge processor PC market. However, if successful, it may find ready acceptance in the ever shrinking process nodes of Intel’s embedded ATOM processors, for which fast boot-up times are even more critical than in the PC world.

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