Optane SSD fast enough to be used as memory extender: Intel

Yolanda Curtis
March 20, 2017

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

"The Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X is the first product to combine the attributes of memory and storage", the firm said.

The SSD takes advantage of Intel's 3D XPoint technology, which is reportedly 1,000 times faster than NAND and comprising of a higher density than DRAM memory.

The DC P4800X accelerates applications for fast caching and fast storage to increase scale per server and reduce transaction costs for latency sensitive workloads.

Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X Series will drive new solutions with applications such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, faster trading, and deeper insights into medical scans.

Beyond its speed as a standard SSD replacement - which the chip giant said is between 8 to 40 times more responsive under load compared to a SSD DC P3700 - Intel is touting its usage as a memory extender.

The feature requires using Intel's own chipset and Xeon processors, along with a middleware layer that boots before the operating system and presents DRAM and SSD resources to the operating system and applications as a single pool of memory.

In theory, Memory Drive could benefit in-memory applications such as SAP HANA, but Intel said it is now in talks with SAP and other in-memory providers on ensuring those applications work properly with the technology. Bit storage is based on a change of bulk resistance, in conjunction with a stackable cross-gridded data access array. That, Micron asserted, is 10 times better than NAND flash-based SSDs.

The new Optane SSD DC 4800X is a 375GB SSD in a PCIe card form factor.

Now, Intel is confident enough in its product that it has finally begun shipping its first Optane product - albeit exclusively to carefully-selected partners in what the company calls an 'early ship programme' ahead of a vague 2H 2017 roll-out plan.

Intel is also planning to release 750GB and 1.5TB PCIe models, as well as 375GB, 750GB and 1.5TB U.2 parts over the course of this year.

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