The PC industry continues to work toward new technologies that can bridge the gap between fast RAM and slower storage. A new consortium was recently formed, in fact, for just that purpose, and last year Intel and Micron announced a new intermediate technology called 3D XPoint. More details about 3D XPoint surfaced Monday, and they point to a new class of high-performance intermediary memory, according to Tech Report.
Some previous details about 3D XPoint were released over the summer during Intel’s quarterly financial report. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich revealed that Optane solid-state drives based on 3D XPoint technology would roll out by the end of 2016. In fact, 3D XPoint and other memory technology were held up as a near-term solution to a slowdown in Intel’s memory business.
Potential applications for 3D XPoint range from integration into consumer and enterprise SSDs to use in machine learning and big data cloud applications. Gaming could also be a beneficiary of the technology, which could provide a 5x to 10x improvement over current SSDs.
According to the information revealed Monday, 3D XPoint will be incorporated into consumer Optane models that use two PCIe 3.0 lanes to pass data and 16GB and 32GB versions. Titled the Intel Optane 8000p, performance will range from 1.4GB/s 128KP read and 300MB/s write for the 16GB unit, and 1.6GB/s read and 500MB/s write for the 32GB unit.
Optane will only work with Kaby Lake and newer CPUs, although Intel will support 64-bit versions of Windows 7 through Windows 10. This should help move the industry off of previous generations of silicon and help cement Kaby Lake as the processor of choice.
Intel and Micron intend for the 3D XPoint-based Optane products to provide a higher density and non-volatile alternative to DRAM, while providing better writing endurance and performance than today’s SSDs. As Intel’s CEO indicated over the summer, Intel and Micron hope to have Optane available for purchase by the end of 2016.
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