Intel continues to prove their commitment to chip evolution with the demonstration of new phase-change memory. A possible replacement for flash memory, PRAM uses chalcogenide glass to switch between 1s and 0s. This method could theoretically allow for faster and smaller chips, while using less power. PRAM will also last longer than flash and is less likely to become corrupted. Intel, along with Samsung, Hitachi, and a conglomerate of others has been working on such technology since 2000. On Tuesday, however, Intel held their first public demonstration at the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing and plans to start shipping samples of the 128-bit chip.
Advancements like this and the (hopefully) approaching release of new GPUs could vault Intel back to the uncontested king of chip manufacturers. AMD today posted a loss of $611 million dollars in the first fiscal quarter, more than twice what analysts were estimating. Much of this loss comes from the overwhelming success of Intel’s Core 2 Duo chips since their release in July of last year. Meanwhile, we are still waiting for AMD’s rebuttal, since they have not released an entirely new chip architecture sine the Athlon 64 X2 in 2005. Their merger with ATI last October may lend a glimmer of hope in the AMD Fusion, a combination CPU and GPU.
If nothing else, Intel’s current market dominance shows how much the hardware wars can drive innovation. Without AMD’s competition, Intel could be tempted to sit back on its haunches and continue producing solid, but ultimately staid chips. As long as both companies provide the catalyst, we’ll see an explosion of new technologies emerging into the consumer market.