The Non-Volatile Memory Host Controller Interface (NVMHCI) Working Group, as it’s being called, will be chaired by Intel and will provide a standard software programming interface for nonvolatile memory subsystems.
The group says the interface will be used by operating system drivers to access NAND flash memory storage in the applications such as hard drive caching and solid-state drives. Today, PCs already use this technology; “ReadyBoost” is what Microsoft calls its Vista disk caching technology that makes computers running the OS more responsive by using flash memory on a USB 2.0 drive, SD card, or other forms of flash memory.
There are two main types of flash memory today, NAND and NOR gate chips. The former was developed by Toshiba a year after Intel debuted its NOR flash. NOR is typically used for code storage inside of cell phones and other devices, while NAND flash is used to store data inside of MP3 players and other devices.
NAND flash functions more like a disk with the addition of Flash Translation Layer (FTL) software that allows flash to appear as a disk drive to the operating systemâ€”as opposed to NOR chips, which function like a computer’s main memory.
NAND flash is also generally less expensive than NOR, and can be rewritten up to a million times. Erasing and writing NAND is also faster than NOR.
According to Bob Rinne, general manager of Windows Hardware Ecosystem at Microsoft, there are more and more NAND solutions coming to the market that take advantage of the ReadyBoost and ReadyDrive features of Vista. ReadyDrive is a Vista feature that lets PCs equipped with a hybrid drive to boot up faster, resume from hibernation in less time, and preserve battery power. Hybrid hard drives integrate non-volatile flash memory with a traditional hard drive.