Optane Drives Future Intel Processors

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Friday, Aug 21, 2015

Tom Coughlin, CNSV member and IEEE Region 6 Director, discusses Intel’s IDF release this week of their upcoming 3D XPoint non-volatile memory technology and “Optane” technology, with speeds at 1,000 times faster than NAND flash memory.

At the 2015 IDF Conference in San Francisco Intel revealed information about how they intended to use their 3D XPoint (crosspoint) memory technology in SSDs in 2016 and as DIMM memory in new computer architectures in 2017. The company has code named the combination of the 3D XPoint memory with Intel’s system memory controller, interface hardware and software IP; as OPTANE. The company sees Optane as the driver of more effective computer (and ultimately IoT and client devices) applications as a result of fast non-volatile memory.

Optane Drives Future Intel Processors 1

The company has not confirmed on the memory technology they are using in the 3D XPoint memories, although many people believe that it is some sort of phase change memory, and many statements from Intel support this conjecture. What the company is saying is that 3D XPoint is 1,000 times faster than NAND flash (although slower than DRAM), has 1,000 times the endurance of NAND flash and is 10X denser than NAND flash. SSDs made with 3D XPoint technology have 10X lower latency than NAND SSDs. However the price of 3D XPoint memories (in $/GB) are higher than NAND flash (exact prices differences have not been revealed yet).