Intel Optane Technology

Intel’s latest evolution in storage technology is Optane which is based on their 3D Xpoint memory that was co-developed with Micron. 3D Xpoint is a new type of non-volatile memory that is 10 times faster as well as 1,000 times more durable than NAND and is 10 times more dense than DRAM.

3D Xpoint and 3D NAND is not the same thing. Although they both use a stack design, 3D NAND is simply a way of utilizing space more efficiently by adding layers of cells on top of each other through a better utilization of space. As you add more layers you increase the storage capacity of the silicon and ultimately lower the cost per gigabyte.

3D Xpoint is a radically different design from standard NAND.  NAND technology uses transistors or gates where the cells that contain the bit as being a 0 or 1 are arranged in blocks so if any cell needs to be changed the entire block must be re-written. 3D Xpoint is a transistor-less design where data is written at a bit level so each cells state can be changed from a 0 or 1 independently of the other cells. The cells can be changed to a high or low resistance state by applying different voltages that change the bit to a 0 or 1. Since the physical state of the cell material has changed they can hold their values indefinitely even without power. This more efficient design increases performance, improves durability, enhances capacity, and helps lower power consumption.

Intel utilizes 3D Xpoint memory in several different products under the Optane brand that includes Optane Memory which is a cache for boosting storage performance, Optane SSD which is a series of solid state drives that utilize 3D Xpoint in place of traditional NAND, Optane DC Persistent Memory for servers which brings higher memory capacity closer to the CPU through DRAM sockets, and Optane Memory H10 which is a SSD for client systems that combines QLC NAND storage with Optane Memory Cache on the same M.2 forma factor.