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Intel Introduces A New Class of Memory And Storage Technology

[Estimated read time: 3 minutes]
  • Intel Optane DC persistent memory optimizes the workloads by placing a large volume of data closer to the processor. 
  • It leverages 3D Xpoint and offers DIMMs in sizes of 128, 256 and 512 gigabytes.

According to the IBM report (2017), 90% of the today’s world data has been created in the last 2 years alone, at more than 2.5 billion gigabytes of data a day. With the emerging smart devices and technologies, this growth rate will likely increase.

Both the volume and the variety of data is increasing at an enormous rate, and it must be securely stored and organized. To eliminate the existing bottlenecks that restrict the efficient data processing, Intel has unveiled Optane DC persistent memory.

It’s a new kind of memory and storage technology specifically designed for data center usage. Unlike conventional DRAM, it is less expensive and has more capacity.

Intel Optane DC persistent memory will optimize the workloads by placing higher volume of data closer to the processor, which will eventually minimize the high-latency of accessing data from storage. Each Optane chip will have up to 512 GB of capacity.

Storage Hierarchy | Image credit: Intel

Features and Advantages

According to the company, the new chip will have the following features –

  1. Higher uptime and quicker recovery after power cycles
  2. Better performance in multi-node
  3. Fast virtual machine storage
  4. Advanced hardware encryption
  5. Distributed cloud applications support

Intel Optane DC persistent memory offers several advantages to data servers. For example,  it offers more memory capacities to memory-exhaustive workloads like Redis IMDB server. Compared to DRAM, it delivers higher number of server instances at the same SLA (service level agreement) performance.

Intel Optane DC persistent chip 

Moreover, for scheduled restarts of NoSQL databases, Optane offers faster (in seconds) restart vs DRAM’s cold restart. Intel reports a restart time of 17 seconds for Optane compared with 2,100 seconds for a traditional configuration.

Source: Intel 

It leverages 3D Xpoint – a non-volatile, bleeding-edge memory that offers better performance and greater endurance than conventional NAND flash memory, but with DRAM-like access time.

Smart data management feature intelligently switches data in the optimal tier to maximize performance. The chip can be seamlessly integrated into four memory slots to support the demand of the data era with faster than ever analytics, cloud services and next-generation communication services.

Although benchmark and specific performance details aren’t yet available, Optane DC persistent memory is likely to have quite higher latency than DRAM. Also, it will only work on Intel next generation Xeon processor, thus you won’t be able to upgrade your existing system with this module. And of course, it won’t run on AMD-powered servers and EPYC systems either.

Availability and Testing

The chip will be available in 2019. However, Intel is providing developers remote access to computers running on Optane DC persistent memory for testing and software development, via Intel Builders Construction Zone.

System architects are expected to come up with new techniques of data storage and access, as DC persistent memory technology hits the market. These new techniques may lead to deriving more [useful] value from data.

Read: Intel’s Brain-Like Processor And Quantum Chip | “Loihi” & “Tangle Lake”

According to the company, systems integrated with Optane DC persistent memory, Optane SSDs and upcoming 3D NAND SSDs with QLC (quad-level cell) technology, will have more efficient storage, yielding better performance.

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