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Moneta Onyx phase-change memory prototype can write some data 7x faster than traditional SSDs

Zach Honig
06.13.11
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As file sizes for many data types continue to grow, smaller chunks are also becoming more ubiquitous, particularly on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, and search tools like Google. These high-volume, small-size blocks of data may soon be served up from a specific type of SSD, like the Moneta Onyx prototype developed by a team at the University of California, San Diego. Onyx uses phase-change memory (PCM), which can rewrite single bits of data (1s and 0s) on demand, rather than rewriting data in larger chunks, yielding sustained 327 megabyte per second (MB/s) reads and 91MB/s writes with smaller file types -- two to seven times faster than the most efficient commercial SSDs. PCM specifically benefits granular data, rather than large files that must be transferred completely (like photos and documents), so the tech is more likely to appear on devices serving up short text-based messages. Traditional SSDs can write larger files faster than the Onyx prototype, though the new drive offers speedier read speeds across the board. It'll be at least a couple years before PCM becomes commercially available, but once (and if) it does, you'll be reading about your coworker's breakfast or college buddy's traffic jam milliseconds faster than before.

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