IDF Intel is to launch an industry-wide initiative to encourage the use of NAND Flash in notebook and desktop computers in a bid to boost boot times and deliver improved power savings. The system is based on an Intel-developed technology codenamed 'Robson'.
Rumours of Robson have come and gone, but this week the chip giant confirmed the technology to be a real one. Intel Mobility Group chief Sean Maloney yesterday described Robson as a "NAND Flash-based platform accelerator".
Separately, Intel is putting in place the Open NAND Flash Interface (ONFI) initiative, which will seek to develop a standard method of implementing and using Robson-like system in PCs - and presumably Macs now. Intel's pitch is that ONFI will do all the hard work, allowing notebook manufacturers to implement the technique easily and cheaply.
Robson provides a standard module ready to slot onto a motherboard. Operating system start-up data is loaded onto the on-board Flash chips to reduce boot times - after an initial boot, the only time the system would start up from the hard drive is in circumstances when the start-up code or procedure has changed. And then a new, updated copy would be dumped to Flash for next time.
Windows Vista is expected to support just such an approach to cutting boot times.
Intel's not the only company interested in this kind of system. Samsung, the world's leading NAND Flash producer, has been banging on about this for some time. Intel sells NAND Flash too, and with demand for the memory technology reaching record levels thanks to the success of a certain computer maker's iconic portable digital music player, NAND makers have become extremely keen on broader applications they can sell their chips into.®