INTEL 3D XPOINT (OPTANE)

3d_xpoint

On July 28, 2015, Intel and Micron have announced a new type of storage. Intel’s new 3D XPOINT is a new class of storage that they hope will be able to bring to the PC market in the next couple of years.

Compared to NAND memory Intel claims 10x lower latency, 3x write endurance, 4x writes per second performance improvement, 3x reads per second, and 30% power usage. The improved endurance is desirable for databases which need precision.

The way it works in simple.It works by resistive change between 2 phases in a substrate. The phase change is the basis for the resistive change.

The graphic shows the way the technology works with planar design that can leverage standard foundry systems.

Intel believes that the product will be able to fit between RAM and SSD in the storage food chain. Facebook and other large web site operations will likely want lots of early production to beef up their servers.

  • Intel and Micron begin production on new class of non-volatile memory, creating the first new memory category in more than 25 years.
  • New 3D XPoint™ technology brings non-volatile memory speeds up to 1,000 times faster than NAND, the most popular non-volatile memory in the marketplace today.
  • The companies invented unique material compounds and a cross point architecture for a memory technology that is 10 times denser than conventional memory.
  • New technology makes new innovations possible in applications ranging from machine learning to real-time tracking of diseases and immersive 8K gaming.

The prototype wafer is 128 gigabit which is much better than the 8 gigabit of memory being made by Samsung on their 20nm line. The speed will be popular with corporate users, We also expect this to be successful gaming enthusiasts in 2017. 128 gigabit is close to the 15nm line that Toshiba is making their SSD with.

The durability is estimated to be up to 1000 times better than NAND flash as well which means it will be very popular indeed. We can see this type of storage even pressuring hard disks if they can be make cheap enough.

Intel and Micron reckon the 3D XPoint chips will prompt the development of new compute and storage architectures, which may well need software changes. Generally Windows sees all storage as blocks which go back to the early hard disk sector which has become a defacto standard. We expect that this type of storage will simply create a new tier for corporate needs, until prices decline enough for gamers to jump in.

Chips will be fabricated at IMFT’s Lehi foundry in Utah, with output shared between Intel and Micron. The technology will be priced at more than NAND but less than DRAM. With 128 gigabit chips, its likely that 1TB products can be made easily in a notebook disk sized format using a few boards full of the chips.

NB: This article was lost with the ClearDB database provided by Azure. The original was on the old site so recovery was possible.