Intel Braidwood technology may sap SSD demand

Braidwood puts NAND chips on the motherboard to speed up data transmission, a cheaper alternative to SSDs

People expecting Solid State Drives (SSDs) to become more popular may have longer to wait, according to a new report from Objective Analysis.

The researcher, which specializes in chips, says a new technology coming from Intel called Braidwood, will likely stifle demand for SSDs next year.

Intel showed the technology off at Computex Taipei in June. Braidwood is a NAND flash memory technology built onto a module made to fit onto computer motherboards. The technology speeds boot-up times, makes applications launch more quickly and improves overall speed on a system. It's essentially the next generation of Intel's Robson technology, which was designed to provide similar speed improvements.

"NAND has a role in the PC platform and Braidwood promises to be the right implementation at the right time," said Jim Handy, analyst at Objective Analysis, in a statement.

Braidwood accelerates input/output in computers by saving some data on the NAND flash memory chips, including oft-used programs, for quick launches. Braidwood will work with Intel 5-series chipsets, which are due out soon, and Intel's Clarkdale line of microprocessors.

Objective Analysis said Braidwood has the potential to be a game changer.

"The move to NAND in PCs will boost the NAND market, soften the SSD and DRAM markets, and pose problems for those NAND makers who are not poised to produce ONFi (open NAND flash interface) NAND flash," wrote memory analyst Jim Handy, in a statement.

SSDs, which are also made of NAND flash memory chips, have battled for years to replace hard disk drives (HDDs). SSDs transfer data at speedier rates than HDDs, and are more power efficient and durable. HDDs remain the most widely used storage because they are far cheaper than SSDs and offer far greater storage capacity. Braidwood would be paired with storage such as HDDs or SSDs in a computer, and more likely HDDs due to the cost savings and because Braidwood already offers some of the benefits of SSDs.

Samsung Electronics is the world's largest maker of NAND flash memory chips and a champion of SSDs. Intel also sells SSDs.

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Dan Nystedt

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