Intel made a series of major announcements at the 2019 Memory and Storage Day in Seoul last week. These announcements relate to its Optane persistent storage and NAND flash memory capabilities.
Optane is a new type of non-volatile memory developed by Intel. It has the capacity of a solid-state drive (SSD), but the speed is comparable to DRAM. The product is located between memory and storage, like a fast cache.
Intel announced a new generation of Optane memory codenamed "Alder Stream". It is rumored that its failure rate is 50 times lower than that of 3D NAND, and the transfer rate per second is twice as high as that of Optane currently available on the market. The
Optane is only available for second-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors, but is now available for high-end workstations, which means it can run on Core i9 and Xeon CPUs.
Optane currently operates in three modes. There is an App Direct mode for persistent storage. Then there is the memory mode. When it works as DRAM, the mixed mode uses part of the memory in both cases. In the first mode, it will increase the writing speed of the disc.
Compared with the DRAM memory stick connected directly to the motherboard, the typical memory stick is expensive. However, the 512GB Optane device is priced at $ 8,000.
Intel also announced a new 96-layer four-layer cell (QLC)
controller, which will go into production sometime this quarter, with the goal of being available next year. QLC drives have four bits of storage per drive, which is different from most SSDs with three bits.
However, the downside of QLCs is that they tend to have a very short lifespan, usually only 1,000 writes (compared to 3,000 to 5,000 writes for three-layer cells).
Intel also brought Pentalevel (PLC) units, each with 5 bits, which is also planned to be released next year.
Optane seems to be a huge competitive advantage for Intel, and it may be difficult for other companies in the market to find a suitable answer. AMD may be in the lead today, but I believe they can respond to Intel’s recent efforts to regain market share.