Intel Slashes PC Boot Times

The secret is in the NAND...

We all hate waiting, whether it is for a programme to start or Windows to boot, which is why Intel’s latest technological breakthrough is one of the most interesting I have seen since the debut of dual core.

Called Robson Cache Technology, it ignores the hard drive to instead load software using

NAND modules (below – yes the stuff used to build Flash memory). Being solid state, this reduces access times massively, while also saving power since the hard disk doesn’t need to spin up every few minutes.


I would like to go into more detail about the workings of Robson, but at this stage Intel has decided to keep everything a closely guarded secret. It did, however, demonstrate Robson yesterday in Taipei with impressive results. Using two identically specified laptops, but one with Robson the other without (just like a shampoo commercial), it ran through a number of timed tests.

Perhaps most impressive in the published results is the near instantaneous start up of the Robson machine, against its competitor which takes several seconds before the screen even comes on. Inside Windows the numbers were equally startling: Adobe Reader opened in 0.4 seconds using Robson, 5.4 seconds without. Quicken began in 2.9 seconds, eight seconds without.

Since 128MB of NAND was used in the Robson enabled machine and NAND is currently available in capacities ranging from 64MB to 4GB the potential here is highly promising: the more NAND, the greater the amount of data or number of applications that can take advantage of it. Even more encouraging, is the news that Intel claims it is already in a position to share the technology with computer manufacturers.

“”It’s up to the OEMs to decide how it will be implemented,” said Mooly Eden, VP and GM of Intel’s mobile platform group. “My guess is that enterprise users will likely see it first.” Can I put my vote in for the consumer?

Oh and before I get asked the question as to why Intel is using NAND and not its own NOR flash memory it is because the latter isn’t designed to function in an environment where data is constantly rewritten to it. Something for the company’s lab rats to work on, methinks?

Intel UK

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