Intel’s 3D XPoint™ Technology Products – What’s Available and What’s Coming Soon

Overview

3D XPoint™ technology, jointly developed by Intel and Micron, was first announced in 2015 in a news release titled Intel and Micron Produce Breakthrough Memory Technology. Are you interested in 3D XPoint technology and want to know what products Intel is shipping today or planning for the near future? Read on to learn about memory and storage products that are available as of October 2017, and persistent memory DIMMS, which are expected to ship in 2018.

Intel® Optane™ Technology

The Intel® Optane™ technology brand combines 3D XPoint™ Memory Media, Intel Memory and Storage Controllers, Intel Interconnect IP, and Intel® software. Together these building blocks provide an unmatched combination of high throughput, low latency, high Quality of Service, and high endurance for consumer and data center workloads demanding large capacity and fast storage.

Today you can buy two different products built on Intel Optane technology:

  • Intel® Optane™ SSD DC P4800X Series – for the data center
  • Intel® Optane™ memory – for a supercharged PC experience  

Intel® Optane™ SSD DC P4800X Series

The Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X Series is the first product to combine the attributes of memory and storage. This product provides a new storage tier that breaks through the bottlenecks of traditional NAND storage to accelerate applications and enable better per server performance.

The Intel® Optane™ SSD DC P4800X Series

The Intel® Optane™ SSD DC P4800X Series

The Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X Series accelerates applications for fast caching and storage to increase scale per server and reduce transaction costs for latency-sensitive workloads. In addition, the Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X Series enables data centers to deploy bigger and more affordable data sets that will enable them to gain new insights from large memory pools through the use of Intel® Memory Drive Technology. Check out the Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X Series website for more information about this product, or read the Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X Series product brief for details about performance, latency, Quality of Service, and endurance. 

Intel® Memory Drive Technology

Intel Memory Drive Technology increases memory capacity beyond DRAM limitations and delivers DRAM-like performance in a completely transparent manner to the operating system and application. This technology is a software middle-layer product, much like a hypervisor for the memory subsystem within a server. When you pair this software with one or more Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X Series and system DRAM on a supported Intel® Xeon® processor-based platform, the combination appears as a single memory pool.

Extend Memory with an Intel® Optane™ SSD for a Bigger Memory Footprint

Extend Memory with an Intel® Optane™ SSD for a Bigger Memory Footprint

You don’t need to change your applications to take advantage of this expanded memory pool, because the software actively manages data transfers between the DRAM and SSD to provide the optimal combination of capacity and performance. Artificial intelligence (AI) and database applications are obvious beneficiaries of this technology. For product information, read the Intel Memory Drive Technology product brief.

Intel® Optane™ SSD 900P Series

The Intel® Optane™ SSD 900P targets high performance desktops and workstations. Designed to deliver high random read/write performance coupled with ultralow latency, it enables professional users, creators, and enthusiasts to extract greater platform performance. Software developers can optimize applications to take advantage of the unique attributes of Intel® Optane™ technology: low latency, high throughput at low queue depth, and high quality of service (QoS). For more information, read the Intel® Optane™ SSD 900P Series Product Brief and check out the Intel Optane SSD 900P Series product page. 

Intel® Optane™ Memory

For the PC consumer market, Intel Optane memory contains 3D XPoint Memory Media in a standard M.2 form factor module. It plugs into a standard M.2 connector on PCs built using the 7th gen Intel® Core™ processor platform. Intel Optane memory creates a bridge between DRAM and a SATA hard drive and uses Intel® Rapid Storage Technology (Intel® RST) software to enable accelerated access to important files.

Intel® Optane™ memory module

Intel® Optane™ memory module

Intel Optane memory bridges the functionality of DRAM and storage in that it is high performance, byte-addressable, and offers persistent storage. Intel RST learns which files your PC uses frequently and over a short period of time stores these key files in Intel Optane memory, so that the next time you boot, the files are available immediately in memory. Intel Optane memory enables PCs to deliver significantly more performance and faster load times across a broad range of personal computing experiences. It will enable new levels of PC responsiveness for everything from compute-intensive engineering applications to high-end gaming, digital content creation, web browsing, and even everyday office productivity applications. Read What Happens When Your PC Meets Intel Optane Memory? by Intel Executive Vice President Navin Shenoy for an overview of what this technology will mean to PC users.

Many of Intel’s partners have Intel Optane memory-ready motherboards, systems, and products shipping now or planned for the near future.

The Future: What about Persistent Memory DIMMS?

At the May 2017 SAP Sapphire NOW conference, Intel demonstrated live for the first time its future persistent memory solution in a DIMM form factor. This DIMM highlights a commitment to rearchitecting the data center to support the future needs of a data-intensive world driven by the growth of AI, 5G, autonomous driving, and virtual reality. Based on 3D XPoint Memory Media, persistent memory from Intel is a transformational technology that will deliver memory that is higher capacity, affordable, and persistent. Check out the article A New Breakthrough in Persistent Memory Gets Its First Public Demo for more information about the SAP Sapphire demo.

Persistent memory DIMM from Intel

Persistent memory DIMM from Intel

With persistent memory DIMMs, Intel is revolutionizing the storage hierarchy to bring large amounts of data closer to the Intel Xeon processor, which will enable new usage models and make in-memory applications like SAP HANA even more powerful. Persistent memory DIMMs will be available in 2018 as part of an Intel® Xeon® processor Scalable family refresh (codename: Cascade Lake). To get ready for next year’s planned product release, software developers can get started preparing their application for persistent memory today. Visit the Intel® Developer Zone’s Persistent Memory Programming website for the information you need to update your software, and stay tuned for further product details.

Summary

Now you know that you can get Intel Optane technology for the data center or your home PC today. In the data center, you can use the Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X Series to boost caching and storage performance or extend memory with Intel Memory Drive technology. At home, Intel Optane memory enables you to enjoy faster performance for engineering applications, gaming, and digital content creation, as well as everyday activities such as web browsing.

For the future, look forward to persistent memory DIMMS from Intel, planned to be available in 2018 as part of an Intel Xeon processor Scalable family refresh (codename: Cascade Lake).

About the Author

Debra Graham worked for many years as a developer of enterprise storage applications. Now she works to help developers optimize their use of Intel® technology through articles and videos on Intel Developer Zone.

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