back to article Hey, Intel and Micron: XPoint is phase-change memory, right? Or is it? Yes. No. Yes

So, is XPoint memory phase-change memory ... or not? An IM Flash Technologies co-CEO just gave a strong signal it might be phase-change, but doubt remains as Intel and Micron have kept their secret process ingredient hidden. IMFT is the Intel/Micron joint venture to manufacture flash chips in Lehi, Utah. Guy Blalock and Keyvan …

  1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    But, but, but, ...

    does it taste like a duck?

    Hmm, hungry now

    Sorry, couldn't resist. The one with the cookery book in the pocket please!

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: But, but, but, ...

      You use the 'joke' icon, but your point is sensible:

      It really doesn't matter if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, or eats like a duck. The diner only cares if it tastes like a duck.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But, but, but, ...

      The power of auto suggestion, that's me picking up sliced duck in ginger from the Chinese on the way home.

  2. Charles 9 Silver badge

    It could be an intelligent midget goose able to use a duck call.

    1. captain veg Silver badge

      Or a man with a bill. And no hat on.


    2. John Sanders

      You won the interwebs today

      A pint for you sir,

      And this goes straight to the notes.

  3. druck Silver badge

    XPoint is the new...

    ..cold fusion?

    1. asdf

      Re: XPoint is the new...

      No that is the memristor aka The Duke Nukem Forever of memory tech that was going to change the world in 2011.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: XPoint is the new...

        For what it's worth, memristor arrays are apparently used in some small embedded devices.

        Given the embedded market usually going for "cheap" and "reliable", it may mean that they're able to fab small sizes but are having trouble reliably making 'em large enough to be worthwhile selling as a standalone item.

  4. Enki

    Same Difference

    While XPoint does work through a phase change, its behavior is different from PCM. Since PCM works through the relative resistance of the amorphous/crystalline material itself, it is slower to write (you have to get the state within the tolerance) and slower to read. It also suffers from wear out as the ability to be sufficiently exact breaks down over time (I am simplifying of course). On the plus side, it allows for multi-bit cells based on intermediate states.

    XPoint, the phase change is just a mechanism to allow or block the wire through the cell. This means that reading and writing are much faster, and there is less wear out risk, but there are no intermediate states for multi-bit cells.

    Since the behavior is different, I'm sure the marketing guy did his job and told the engineers to give it a new name and avoid the words phase change. In this case it is the right decision as knowledge of PCM would lead you away from understanding the behavior of these new cells.

    1. John Savard

      Re: Same Difference

      That sounds like the Ovonyx patent application 20090095949 (from 2009, as the number reveals).

  5. John Savard

    Thank You, It All Makes Sense Now

    Well, maybe changing something other than the phase is how they finally made it work. (And exactly what is their secret, so they have to get a good patent before they can tell you.)

    But XPoint is definitely almost phase change memory.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Thank You, It All Makes Sense Now

      So, like a small monkey wearing a duck suit then?

  6. Barbarian At the Gates

    Can they field it?

    Can they build it into a product, and will the product be successful? That's the really interesting question to me. As the author noted, Intel and Micron are adding a new memory product that needs to sit in a new "spot" in a computer architecture. Where Intel thinks it should go in has me more curious than what's in the magic black box, personally.

  7. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    That which we call a computer implemented invention ...

    The idea of FinFETs has been around long enough for the patents to expire. When process shrinkage made FinFETs worth the effort, Intel called them 3D-transistors. I assume Intel's PCM will get a new TLA so it can be covered with fresh patents.

  8. CarbonLifeForm

    I'm still confused why it's so important to the article writer to prove that it's a duck. If its phase change memory, hurrah. If its not, hurrah. If its vaporware, boo.

  9. cyewhang

    Chicken Feet & Phoenix Claws

    Very long ago somewhere east, when there is little food, people had to eat chicken feet. It doesn’t taste very good and look dirty, but it is better than grass. Then two chiefs found a tasty way to prepare them, and called it ‘Phoenix Claws’.

    <font size=”.1”> Disclaimer: All characters & events here are entirely fictional. You hereby agreed you don’t believe this article. </font>

  10. STZ

    Phase change or not ...

    .. is probably going to be decided in court, and patent lawyers are going to make lots of money on that issue.

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