MU/INTC and 3D XPoint

I casually mentioned my interest in the Micron/Intel joint effort to produce a new memory technology. A.J. (Phoolio18) expressed an interest and requested more information. OK, let’s explore reactions to the MU/INTC announcement regarding the development of 3D XPoint memory chips. They’ve progressed to actual production, but the impact won’t be felt much until 2016.

Here are several articles that piqued my interest. First, an overview of the technology:

Intel Corporation and Micron Technology, Inc. today unveiled 3D XPoint™ technology, a non-volatile memory that has the potential to revolutionize any device, application or service that benefits from fast access to large sets of data. Now in production, 3D XPoint technology is a major breakthrough in memory process technology and the first new memory category since the introduction of NAND flash in 1989.

The explosion of connected devices and digital services is generating massive amounts of new data. To make this data useful, it must be stored and analyzed very quickly, creating challenges for service providers and system builders who must balance cost, power and performance trade-offs when they design memory and storage solutions. 3D XPoint technology combines the performance, density, power, non-volatility and cost advantages of all available memory technologies on the market today. The technology is up to 1,000 times faster and has up to 1,000 times greater endurance than NAND, and is 10 times denser than conventional memory.

The MU/INTC announcement was followed by a slew of articles dishing out pros and cons. Here’s a sample:

Intel/Micron: 3D NAND And SSDs About To Explode

Wall Street’s sellside analysts are too busy looking at the wings on the fly on their windshields…One key area they are not currently writing about is one of the biggest near-term profit and revenue drivers: 3D NAND and SSDs built on this technology coming out of the IM Flash Technologies joint venture between the two companies.

The SSD opportunity will grow from $13 billion in 2014 to $32.5 billion in 2018 per the remarks of Rob Crooke cited above. Let me go way out on a limb here and theorize that the Intel/Micron approach will prove to be significantly better than Samsung’s, which are already having problems with heat and random erasures in existing SSDs and may be lagging in 3D density. I believe there is a chance IMFT could secure half of the market when it is 50% penetrated in 2018. One-fourth to Micron for an additional $8 billion in revenue. One-fourth to Intel for an additional $8 billion in revenue. Make that $16 billion each when the market is fully penetrated.

Here’s a follow-up article:

Micron And Intel: Non-Volatile Memory Is Exploding

The entire article is well worth reading. It offers overviews of market potential for this technology. Also note it generated over 500 comments, many of which worth reading.

Well, folks, that should get anyone interested in the technology and possible investment opportunities started on the road towards doing additional research.

May we ling long and prosper!