2 months ago


NEWS its nearly unique

NEWS its nearly unique Optane technology, and how it will convince users that it’s worth the investment. Optane occupies a unique niche between a hard drive and DRAM, and originally served as a caching technology for hard drives or SSDs. The first Optane memory gave way to larger, bootable Optanepowered SSDs like the 900P SSD, at 280- and 480GB capacities. Quick SSDs have become a preferred upgrade for notebook PCs, but Intel has yet to make Optane mainstream. Intel hopes to begin changing that with the launch of products like the Optane 800P, a rather small 58GB/118GB M.2 Optane SSD announced at CES. It will begin shipping this month, according to Rob Crooke, who oversees nonvolatile storage products for Intel. In the future, Intel could even combine Optane memory and SSD. This year, Intel will release Optane within a DRAM form factor for the data centre, Crooke said, a signal that Optane as a memory technology will eventually make its way in to client PCs. This matters because fast (but expensive) Optane memory improves overall system performance, which is becoming more critical as microprocessors top out on clock speed. It’s an edge Intel can maintain over chief rival AMD, which lacks competing technology. If Intel manages to tie its chipsets, SSDs, and Optane closer together, you’ll be buying more “Intel Inside” than ever before, and may even be more reluctant to buy components from other vendors. The only question that we have – and that Intel declined to answer – is how Optane will interact with the Spectre vulnerability mitigations, which impact storage. 12 TECH ADVISOR • MAY 2018

NEWS On the right is Intel’s new Optane 800P SSD next to a Optane Memory module What’s in store for Optane Part of Intel’s Optane’s advantage is that it has no direct competitor, which gives Intel some flexibility on how quickly it needs to move forward. Even after Intel and Micron jointly developed 3D XPoint technology, which Intel branded as Optane, Micron hasn’t yet released its own 3D XPoint consumer products. That still leaves Intel plenty to do to improve its SSD and Optane technology, Crooke said. “You’ll see us driving Optane technology to be faster, and closer, and lower-power, and higher-performance, closer to the CPU – and you’ll see us driving 3D NAND SSDs to be bigger and denser and smaller and even removable over time,” Crooke said in an interview. Unfortunately, Crooke wouldn’t disclose what some of those next steps will look like, such as the next MAY 2018 • TECH ADVISOR 13

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