Electronic Design

An On-Chip Parallelism Frenzy

While researchers try to deal with all of the complex semiconductor manufacturing issues, designers must face the looming extreme memory-hog known as Windows Vista, which is ready to debut in a few months. The community has also gone on an on-chip parallelism frenzy. As a result, one trend you're sure to see will be the increased use of solid-state nonvolatile memory (NVM) as a replacement for all or part of a magnetic hard disk drive (HDD).

It won't be long before you see more and more laptop users with very fast boot times and near instant recovery from sleep and suspend modes. You can also expect programs to launch in seconds or milliseconds and operate much faster once opened.

This reality will be made possible by exploiting on-chip parallelism and laptops with no hard disk drives. What?!?! No HDD in my laptop? Blasphemy you say? You bet, so long as you are willing to plop down an extra $1000 or so for 32 Gbytes of flash-based memory.

I know it will be tough to get used to a machine with no HDD making that nice buzzing sound that we all know and love (not to mention the longer battery life). But, hey, we all have to make sacrifices.

Oh, and for those of you not willing to fork over the extra dollars (or are concerned about your precious gigabytes of music, video, and picture data), relax?magnetic HDDs are being combined with flash memory. These hybrid devices were designed whereby the flash provides 95% of the memory hits that would typically have been only on the HDD. And, since it's flash, the data will be there the next time you boot. What's more, Microsoft Vista is engineered to use flash with special new instructions for read and write caching.

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