Optane SSD fast enough to be used as memory extender: Intel

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In the second half of this year, the SSD will become widely available. The Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X expands the reach of cloud computing solutions, and is created to be used for emerging applications such as artificial intelligence, electronic trading, machine learning and medical scans. But in addition to acting as a substitute for NAND for storage, the drive can also act as a main memory source in tandem with a server's DRAM.

The new Optane SSD DC 4800X is a 375GB SSD in a PCIe card form factor.

First products based on 3D Xpoint were originally expected in 2016 but Intel had run into problems during manufacturing. Intel believes that this new storage technology will drive new solutions with applications such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, faster trading, and deeper insights into medical scans.

The first variety of the highly awaited SSD series is the DC P4800X, that has 375 GB of storage capacity. The company names them as the most responsive SSDs for data centers.

Intel, facing challenges in its core business making processors for personal computers and servers, hopes the new technology can expand its memory business, which reported revenue of $2.6 billion in the past year.

When it comes to performance, the 3D XPoint tech should be 1,000 times faster than traditional NAND flash memory found in a regular SSD, but current interfaces will only allow it to operate at speeds of five-to-eight times faster than NAND SSDs. In the case of NAND, its low price is offset by latency, endurance and density issues. It will be available in limited quantities, priced at $1,520 (approximately Rs. 99,384).

The feature requires using Intel's own chipset and Xeon processors, along with a middleware layer that boots before the operating system and presents DRAM and SSD resources to the operating system and applications as a single pool of memory.

Intel announced its first market ready Optane products at the end of January, its low capacity (32GB) Cache SSDs.

In all, Intel's $1520 375GB drive offers a combination of high throughput, low latency and high QoS, while being built to endure and alleviate the bottlenecks data centres now face.

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