Intel's Optane XPoint DIMMs pushed back – source

First media unsuitable for DIMM use and ASIC tuning needed

Labelled_XPoint_Diagram
XPoint schematic

In the week of Intel's Developer Forum we have heard its Optane XPoint SSDs and DIMMs may be delayed.

We are hearing that the first version of XPoint chips can only be used for SSDs. A second, more developed version is needed to make XPoint for DIMMs. That means XPoint DIMMs may not appear until 2018, which would give competing non-volatile DIMMs more time within which to establish themselves. If true, this means Diablo and Netlist get more breathing space.

Intel’s Optane SSDs employ an Intel ASIC as part of their control function. We are informed that this ASIC’s design, which was started some time ago, made assumptions about the characteristics of the media which have not been borne out as the XPoint chips have been delivered from the IMTF Lehi plant.

Our source said this controller area problem has contributed to the XPoint SSD’s relatively poor performance advantage over NAND SSDs, a mere 10X performance boost instead of the potential 1,000 times better than NAND. This may delay Intel’s Optane XPoint SSD production availability until 2017, the source claimed.

An Intel spokesperson said: "3D XPoint technology is in production and Intel has early samples with customers. Intel’s CEO recently stated during the Q2 earnings call, Optane SSDs will start to ship at the end of this year with 3D XPoint DIMMs following next year. We have not shared details on 2nd generation 3D XPoint technology." ®

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