During the opening keynote of the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, CEO Brian Krzanich unveiled the first brand to make use of Intel's revelatory 3D XPoint storage technology. It's called Intel Optane Technology and is set to hit the market in high-performance Intel SSDs beginning in 2016.
After speaking about a “bottleneck” facing computing memory, Krzanich brought out the head of Intel's non-volatile memory technology unit, Rob Crooke. Crooke initially reiterated much of the information given when Micron and Intel introduced 3D XPoint last month, then proceeded to officially reveal the brand name along with a live demo.
When Intel initially announced 3D XPoint, the company signalled it as the largest performance leap in memory technology since the advent of NAND flash in 1989. Intel claimed that 3D XPoint will not only be a thousand times faster than current SSDs, but it will also offer 1,000 times the write endurance of today's NAND-based drives.
In a nutshell, that means 3D XPoint has the scope to open doors for data analysis on an enormous scale. 4.4 zettabytes of digital data was created in 2013 compared to an expected 44 zettabytes by 2020, and 3D XPoint aims to address the need to ensure that information can be accessed quickly, and stored easily and cheaply.
While the potential for 3D XPoint sounds impressive, what have so far been lacking are specific details about how the technology will translate into actual products. Crooke started that ball rolling today by pinning Intel Optane to 2016, when it will go to market in a new line of SSDs. Following this, Intel Optane will power a new line of Intel DIMMs designed for data centres.
The most impressive part of the presentation was saved for the end, as Crooke showcased the first public demonstration of the technology. The benchmark showed that an early SSD prototype of the 3D XPoint technology is able to achieve 5 to 7 times the IOPS performance of Intel's current leading SSD.
No further technical details of Optane were given, but that sizable performance boost could have huge implications for areas that need to chug through large amounts of data, from finance to healthcare to a city scale internet of things.