Published: Tue, March 21, 2017
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

Intel launches 'world's most responsive' Optane SSD with 3D XPoint

Intel launches 'world's most responsive' Optane SSD with 3D XPoint

The Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X expands the reach of cloud computing solutions, and is created to be used for emerging applications such as artificial intelligence, electronic trading, machine learning and medical scans.

Interestingly, the SSD can be configured to appear to an operating system as DRAM - in other words, a massive cache memory. DRAM is too expensive to scale while NAND can scale but falls short in terms of datacenter performance.

Optane, first announced in 2015, is based on the 3D XPoint technology co-developed by Intel and Micron, a new type of persistent solid state memory that records data using changes in resistance - although details on exactly how it works remain in short supply.

The P4800X is supposedly five to eight times quicker than competing SSDs at low queue depths and according to Intel, it's "ideal for critical applications with aggressive latency requirements", and will be well-suited to machine learning and data analytics applications.

Intel has unveiled the first product to use its 3D XPoint memory technology. Typical latency is rated at less than 10 microseconds. But Intel noted that Optane's random read IOPS performance was nearer 10X more than what DC P3700 could support, and is about 4X the performance offered by NVMe drives from Samsung and Seagate.

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This also enables data centres to deliver more affordable memory pools by displacing a portion of DRAM or significantly increase the size of memory pools.

A new series of solid-state drives (SSD) from Intel target data centers looking to deploy advanced applications with heavy database demands.

Intel says the drive can achieve speeds of 2GBps even at low queue depths, whereas flash-based SSDs only work their best with a queue depth of 32 or more.

Intel does a lot more than just make CPUs and one of its promising memory technologies is finally coming to products.

The Intel Optane P4800X will be available as a 375 GB storage solution for and I watering $1,520. Investors shouldn't expect giant sales in the near-term, but over the long run, 3D XPoint could make a big splash in several memory end-markets - including some that are very different from the ones that it's initially targeting.

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