IBM Bluemix to offer Intel 3D XPoint-powered cloud in late 2017

First comes a cloud testbed so we can figure out what non-volatile memory is good for

IBM has quietly revealed that in “In the second half of 2017” its Bluemix cloud will offer “a broad services suite fuelled by Intel Optane”.'

“Optane” is Intel's official name for 3D Xpoint, its non-volatile memory that's faster than NAND Flash, persistent and therefore a very interesting alternative to both random access memory and mass storage media. Intel has said it will derive revenue from Optane sales this year, but shipments aren't expected to flow until early 2017.

It's widely accepted that once Optane and rival storage-class non-volatile memory arrives it will spark a rethink of how we build applications, servers, storage and networks. But because no plan survives contact with the enemy, figuring out just what will need to change is largely a speculative venture. Some opine that Optane will mean servers will have such rapid access to data that networks will become a bottleneck. Others The Register has encountered suggest that Optane and its ilk could become a new tier of RAM. The Gen-Z alliance of Dell, HPE, IBM, ARM, Samsung and pals even suggest a memory fabric is needed, perhaps alongside boxes that do nothing but provide memory to servers in the same rack.

IBM's silent on just what its Optane cloud will offer, but has given us a hint by also announcing it's cooked up a cloudy Optane testbed that will feature Lenovo servers stuffed to the gills with Intel's new offering.

Big Blue says the testbed is intended for “end users and software vendors looking to discover new innovations as well as test and optimise applications.” Interested? Express interest at ssdtestbed@intel.com ®

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