Optane DC P4800X SSD
Intel's Optane DC P4800X SSD. Image: Intel.

Intel took the wraps off its first 3D XPoint product: the Optane DC P4800X SSD. The drive is aimed at enterprise customers, offering 375 GB that can be used as either storage or RAM as a single PCIe add-in unit.

The tech giant has said it will start shipping the P4800X in limited quantities, with wide availability coming in the second half of the year. Other SSD models with more capacity will also hit the market before the end of the year.

Intel’s Optane technology and 3D XPoint architecture are the latest memory format to come out in over 20 years. Other platforms have enjoyed such prolonged success and widespread adoption that the industry didn’t come up with anything new until it showed limitations incompatible with new computers.

What is 3D XPoint technology?

3D XPoint has been largely hailed as a huge step forward in memory architecture for expanding potential capacity using the same physical space current SSDs have. Developed by Intel in partnership with Micron, the technology arranges memory cells by stacking one on top of each other, dramatically increasing space and power.

Optane, on the other hand, is a new memory format that is non-volatile like SSD, meaning it is able to stand power cuts without losing the data it was processing. The standard also delivers low latency levels and high read and write speeds under certain conditions.

One such condition is that when data servers are dealing with a multitude of tasks that quickly pile up, a phenomenon known as queue depth. Optane SSDs perform their best when stressed by low queue depths, clearing out tasks up to eight times faster than regular high-end solid state drives.

The DC P4800X costs $1,520

The DC in Intel Optane DC P4800X stands for data center, and big companies with massive amounts of data may benefit the most from having a relatively affordable option with dual capabilities they can just slide into a tower.

The add-in card will deliver an extra 375 GB to the data centers, which can then churn out this new power as either high-performance storage or RAM. Only Intel Xeon compatible servers will be able to switch between modes using dedicated software.

Further down the road, Intel is going to introduce consumer-oriented products that harness the power of this technology, potentially changing forever the way we look at memory in our computers.

The Intel Optane DC P4800X Series is available for $1,520 in limited quantities and only to exclusive enterprise clients for the time being. Regional availability was not disclosed, but 750 GB and 1.5 TB models are coming before the end of the year.

Source: Intel