Intel Optane DIMMs to hit the market in second half of 2018
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Intel announced the 3D XPoint technology that would later be known as Optane in 2015, promising significantly increased data transfer rates through separate memory-mapped modules that facilitate data caching. The benefit of this technology is reduced load times in applications and games without the need of an SSD. The first wide commercial release of Optane DIMM modules is scheduled for the second half of 2018, as per a recent statement made by Intel at the USB Global Technology Conference.
This year, Intel started to roll out the first Optane-enabled devices in limited quantities, and, even though the performance is clearly there, reviewers warned about endurance problems, some modules failing in applications that stress the memory heavily. Optane modules also need reinforced encryption, as security attacks are easier to perform with persistent memory.
It is not yet clear if the 2018 Optane DIMMs can address these issues, but Intel informed that their density would be higher than DDR4 memory modules. The upcoming DIMMs will also feature a NVMe controller, and the capacities could go up to at least 512 GB per module, a figure consistent with NVMe SSD capacities nowadays. Techincally speaking, the Optane DIMMs are mechanically and electrically DDR4-compatible, but Intel has to provide a proprietary interface.
Intel estimates that the Optane DIMMs will cost around US$88 per piece and they will be widely adopted by 2021, especially in the exascale supercomputer sector.