Good news on the consumer solid state drive front as storage capacity is expected to ramp up dramatically in the coming months thanks to a partnership between Intel and Micron.
The two tech firms, which have been working together on flash storage for quite some time, have created a new type of 3D NAND flash memory that benefits not from building larger flash cells but stacking them on top of each other – much like building a skyscraper. Best yet, this method will result in greater efficiency and lower costs which will likely be passed along to the consumer.
Specifically, the two have stacked NAND flash 32 layers deep to create 32GB chips that are already sampling at both companies. A 48GB variant is also in the works, we’re told. Add several of these to a standard package and you suddenly have a massive SSD on your hands.
How big, you ask? Using the M.2 PCIe form factor, the duo can turn out drives with capacities of up to 3.5TB and in a standard 2.5-inch enclosure, we’ll soon be looking at 10TB drives which is on par with today’s large-capacity spinning hard drives at a fraction of the size.
Brian Shirley, VP of memory technology and solutions at Micron, said this 3D NAND technology has the potential to create fundamental market shifts and the depth of the impact that flash has had to date is really just scratching the surface of what’s possible.
Intel said it expects to ship products using the new technology by the second half of this year.
Clearly defining the business and consumer markets has been a key strategy of Microsoft’s freemium approach to Office. The company is taking it a step further now as any device with a screen size of 10.1 inches or less is considered a mobile device which means Office’s core editing and viewing features will come free of charge.
Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office 365 Client Apps and Services team, said in a blog post that since the Office for iPad announcement last March, they have spent a lot of time considering the use cases and business implications involved in bringing Office to different platforms.
Devices with screen sizes of 10.1 inches or less are probably used on the go where it’s not practical to use a larger computer, he said. Such a device likely also lacks a mouse and keyboard and thus, isn’t categorized as a “pro” tablet used for design or presentations.
Offering a free core experience exposes more people to Microsoft’s productivity suite and thus far, the strategy has been paying off. Koenigsbauer said Office for iOS has been downloaded more than 80 million times in less than a year, a statistic that has also led to a 30 percent uptick in subscriptions to Office 365 Home and Office 365 Personal. Another impressive statistic – one in seven people use Office every day.
The first full-scale Hyperloop test track could be ready for trial runs as early as next year and it won’t be in Texas. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Elon Musk over the years, it’s that once he sets his mind to something, he wastes little time making it happen. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT for short) has acquired rights to 7,500 acres of land in California’s Quay Valley (a planned community) in order to build a five-mile test track. Construction of the project will be funded from money the company expects to take in through a public offering during the third quarter of this year.
HTT CEO Dirk Ahlborn doesn’t like to call the project a test track. As Wired notes, this really isn’t a proof of concept or a scale model; it will apparently be open to the public at some point in which potential riders will be able to buy a ticket and go for a spin.
To reiterate, this is just a five-mile stretch of tube – far from the 400-mile version that Musk eventually wants to build to connect northern and southern California in just half an hour. As such, the shortened version won’t come close to the promised 800 mph speeds of the final Hyperloop as you need about 100 miles of track to reach such speeds.
Top speed runs won’t be a key metric with the first iteration. Instead, the HTT team wants to tweak practical elements of the setup such as boarding procedures and pod design.
Either way, it’s exciting to see the Hyperloop project move one step closer to reality and with any luck, it could seriously change the way we look at long-distance travel.