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Like Flash, 3D XPoint Enters the Datacenter as Cache

In the datacenter, flash memory took off first as a caching layer between processors and their cache memories and main memory and the ridiculously slow disk drives that hang off the PCI-Express bus on the systems. It wasn’t until the price of flash came way down and the capacities of flash card and drives came down that companies could think about going completely to flash for some, much less all of their workloads. So it will be with Intel’s Optane 3D XPoint non-volatile memory, which Intel is starting to roll out in its initial datacenter-class SSDs and will eventually deliver in DIMM memory, U.2 drive, possibly M.2 form factors for servers. Just like it did with 2D and 3D NAND flash drives so many years ago. This time, though, the performance and cost of 3D XPoint will be a lot closer to DRAM memory – and significantly will be addressable as memory – in the systems. This is going to change the way architects design systems and programmers push them to do so as they try to find a better balance of components to move more data in and out of systems faster and more predictably. We think, as does Intel, that certain systems where latency for reads and writes is critical will have Optane sprinkled in various memory tiers and we do not think that 3D XPoint will be a replacement for much more capacious and much less expensive flash cards, SSDs, and sticks that probably have much better serial as opposed to random read and write performance. Learn more at

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