Enlarge / A stick of Intel Optane DC Persistent Reminiscence.


Ever since Intel and Micron introduced 3D XPoint reminiscence in 2015, the world has been ready for the businesses to make use of it to construct reminiscence sticks.

3D XPoint blends the properties of flash storage and DRAM reminiscence. Like flash, it is persistent, retaining its worth even when programs are powered down, and it is dense, with about ten occasions the density of DRAM. Like DRAM, it helps low latency random entry. Intel additionally claimed that its write endurance is considerably higher than that of flash. This mixture of options created the prospect of reminiscence sticks that appear like DIMMs and seem to the system as in the event that they’re DDR4 RAM, however with a lot larger capacities, and with persistence: information written to “RAM” is retained completely. Reminiscence with these properties is thrilling for a variety of purposes—for instance, databases that not have to concern themselves with flushing information again to disk—and would possibly at some point provoke important adjustments in the way in which working programs and software program are designed.

However whereas persistent reminiscence was maybe probably the most fascinating software of 3D XPoint, the primary merchandise to hit the market had been merely storage drives utilizing “Optane” as their branding. There was a sequence of drives for enterprise clients, and a few consumer-oriented M.2 sticks designed to be paired with a spinning disk to provide a high-speed hybrid. Whereas 3D XPoint did supply some advantages over flash SSDs—particularly, the latency of the drives is considerably decrease than that of comparable flash items, and the I/O efficiency is sustained even underneath heavy combined learn/write workloads—this wasn’t fairly the revolution that we had been hoping for.

Not. Immediately, Intel introduced Intel Optane DC Persistent Reminiscence. It is a sequence of DDR4 reminiscence sticks (with capacities of 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB) that use 3D XPoint as a substitute of conventional DRAM cells. End result? The latency is a bit worse than actual DDR four, however they’re persistent. Though they use the usual DDR4 type issue, they will solely be supported on Intel’s subsequent technology Xeon platform.

Intel is pitching the brand new reminiscence as a manner of vastly enhance the quantity of reminiscence accessible to processors, and eliminating the latency that usually happens when shifting information from reminiscence to persistent storage. That is invaluable to a variety of database-like and caching workloads. The persistence signifies that freshly booted servers not have to load terabytes of information into reminiscence—it’s, in impact, already there. As a result of persistent reminiscence has such large implications for software program builders, Intel can even have a scheme that offers builders (underneath NDA) distant entry to machines utilizing Optane Persistent Reminiscence, in order that they’ll develop and take a look at software program that takes benefit of its persistent capabilities.

Past this fundamental info, there’s nonetheless so much we do not find out about Optane DC Persistent Reminiscence: efficiency, endurance, energy consumption, system/processor compatibility, all stay unknown at this level. Intel can also be obscure on the product’s availability: broad availability goes to occur a while in 2019, however chosen clients will be capable of get their arms on it this yr.


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