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Intel Optane Xpoint Storage Technology Roundup

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Does your Workstation feel slow? Is it taking too long to boot, load application and Files? Intel’s new innovative storage technology maybe just what you need. One of the main reasons why your system chugs along at extremely slow speed is because of its hard drive. But with the new Intel Optane 3D Xpoint memory slow running computers could soon become history.

So, What Exactly Is This 3D Xpoint Memory?

This new non-volatile memory means it does not lose data when it stops receiving power. It has been grabbing attention ever since it was brought to public notice almost 2 years ago. The good news is that it is eventually being launched in the new Intel flagship enterprise storage platform. The Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X is primarily a PCIe SSD that uses the standard protocol of NVMe; however it uses 3D Xpoint memory rather than a NAND flash memory, which makes it possible to provide much lower access latency as well as an impressive throughput in comparison to any other NVMe SSD.

Micron and Intel made an announcement in 2015 regarding this new memory, a total of 16 years after any major memory leap. While making the announcement, these companies assured that this new memory would be working 1000 times faster than the NAND memory, but will be equally persistent as the latter, implying it to be an ultrafast medium for data storage. Nevertheless, it took almost 2 years to actually launch this advanced memory technology in the hardware market.

More About Intel Optane:

The design of Optane memory was made for creating a link between storage and DRAM so that you could get a highly responsive and intelligent computing experience. The hype around this new technology was because the Optane technology is based on an exclusive grouping of Intel Memory and Storage Controllers, 3D Xpoint Memory Media, Intel Software and Intel Interconnect IP.

This technology grouping is known to provide the immediate advantage of accelerating systems and decreasing latency for environments requiring huge capacity drive as well as high-speed storage. An enhancement in performance converts into fast caching and system acceleration. This is one shot for Intel to give consumers a taste of a highly functional cache system for their primary storage drive and storing important data at affordable rates.

If your PC runs on this new memory technology, then it will deliver impressive responsiveness for quicker start-up times, quicker email application launches, 4 times quicker file saves and searches, and also up to 65% improvement in your application experience.

How This Technology Works:

Although, much detail from Intel has not yet been obtained on the working of the Optane technology, here’s what we could gather about its features:

  • 3 Dimensional Memory- The reason why this new memory technology is termed so is because its memory is sort of 3 dimensional (3D) lattice structure (Xpoint). It contains stackable layers with wires either arranged in columns or rows, and the real storage element lies at each column and row intersection. The material of this storage element remains unspecified and it has the potential to change its resistance to reach different values. However, the details of this entire process is also in the dark; Intel has clarified that this does not happen to be a phase-change material, moreover, it is not like the memristor tech created by HP.
  • Persistent Resistance Change- Essentially, the resistance change of this memory remains persistent. Every time a value is set onto a cell, the value will be held indefinitely, even when the power of the system is removed. Although, we are unaware of the working of the resistance change, the one thing that is clear about this memory is that its data cells don’t require transistors like the DRAM, making it way denser than the DRAM. In fact, Micron and Intel claim that it has a density improvement of 4-10 times.
  • Easy Rewriting of Data- It is also relatively easy to write as well as rewrite the value that gets stored in each data cell. In the case of NAND flash, high voltage is required to erase the value in each cell, allowing it to be written only one time before being erased. In contrast, this new memory technology allows its resistance to be updated without undergoing the erasure step. 3D Xpoint products have been designed for blurring the lines between storage hard drives and system memory.
  • Reading And Writing Advantage- NAND has been structured in a way that helps it cope with high voltages that can slowly damage the NAND flash with the passage of time. It has been organized in pages containing as many as 4,096 bytes, which are then further organized into blocks that contain up to 512 kilobytes. Reading and writing take place at a time on a single page, with the erases taking place at block and not page granularity. Such a situation gives rise to issues like write amplification in which writing 1 byte to 1 page might require a total block to be erased as well as rewritten. On the other hand, Optane can not only be read but also written at a single bit granularity (potentially). Later on, Micron and Intel have plans to provide DIMMS based on Optane technology to make the most of this granular access.
  • Better Write Endurance- Since it is currently mostly storage-like, Optane memory does not offer any bit-level access yet. Optane is organized into 512 byte sectors- but it has the efficiency to avoid the amplification of extreme write in Flash, and it has been claimed by Intel that this write endurance of Optane is almost 10 times better when compared to Flash.

So, these are the most intriguing features of this new memory technology that is taking the world by storm, and it can be safely assumed that not only private individuals but also businesses will be able to profit using this technology.

Optane memory speeds will live inbetween traditional hard drives and system RAM (Random Access Memory) as such the price will follow suit somewhere between the two per GB. Installing this memory is a simple process that involves inserting the memory module within any compatible motherboard and installing the relevant drivers. Intel Optane 3D Xpoint memory when coupled with the 7th Generation Intel Core i7 Processors, offer a whole new exciting world filled with amazing computing experiences and possibilities. Intel Optane storage and cache drives will be available soon within Workstation Specialists systems. Request more information below to be kept up to date with this exciting new technology.

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