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Intel cuts PC boot time

Robson technology demonstrated in Taipei lets you bypass the hard drive to wake up your PC fast.

Intel is showing off a future technology called Robson that could cut that annoying boot-up time.

With Robson, a PC pulls data and applications off an add-in flash memory card and Intel software, rather than the PC's hard drive. Flash reacts more quickly than hard drives, thus cutting down the time it takes to launch an application. Potentially, notebook users could experience a longer battery life because the hard drive, which is spun by a motor, wouldn't have to work as hard.

While an Intel representative did not provide exact boot-up time comparisons, she said Robson will cut the amount of time it takes from when you hit the "on" button to when the PC can operate, the time it takes to go from a sleep state to an active state, and the time it takes to launch an application.

A Robson card can contain 64MB to 4GB of memory. Increasing the memory, the amount of data or the number of applications that can take advantage of Robson. The more things on the chip, the more things that can go up quickly.

The technology was shown off on Monday at the Intel Developer Forum in Taipei. Intel has not said when the technology might hit store shelves.

Flash is moving deeper into PCs and other devices, thanks to dropping costs and increasing data densities.

Earlier this year, Samsung and Microsoft showed off a prototype hard drive with an internal 1GB flash memory chip that also cuts power consumption. In that prototype, incoming data (words, photos, songs and so on) gets written to the flash memory chip.

While Intel developed the software for Robson, the chips come from outside. Robson relied on NAND flash memory, produced by Samsung, Toshiba and others. Intel makes NOR flash memory, which is not used for these sort of read-write-erase functions.