Intel plans to make 3rd Gen Optane DDR5 Compatible - Optane DC is here it stay

Is Intel's focus on DRAM the reason for their split with Micron?

Intel plans to make 3rd Gen Optane DDR5 Compatible - Optane DC is here it stay

Intel plans to make 3rd Gen Optane DDR5 Compatible - Optane DC is here it stay

Intel's Optane DC memory is an innovative new product, offering non-volatile storage on a DIMM form factor which provides read/write latencies and performance levels which cannot be delivered by NAND. 

While Optane sits behind DDR4 DRAM in terms of raw performance, what Intel offers in larger capacities per DIMM and lower pricing per GB than DRAM, factors that make Optane memory extremely attractive to the datacentre market, especially in memory capacity limited workloads. 

Moving forward, Intel needs to improve Optane to deliver their customers a higher value proposition, either by offering more raw performance to make next-generation Optane more similar to DRAM, provide higher capacity to push forward their memory density advantages or decrease their memory's power consumption so that more chips can be packed into a single DIMM. 

Anandtech has reported that Intel plans to make their 3rd generation of Optane memory compatible with DDR5, a move which Intel calls an inflexion point for Optane. Intel's focus on making Optane a replacement/alternative to DRAM may be one of the reasons for the company's split with Micron, with both companies previously owning a joint venture for NAND development. While Intel is focusing on Optane/XPoint as a DRAM replacement, Micron may have desired for Optane/XPoint to become a more affordable storage solution so that it could better compete with NAND. 
At this time it is unknown when Intel will start supporting DDR5 with their enterprise-grade processors, though it is unlikely to happen before 10nm datacenter processors hit the market. Even then, initial 10nm datacentre processors are likely to support DDR4 memory. Given the fact that we have heard almost nothing about 2nd generation XPoint/Optane memory, we can conclude that 3rd Generation DDR5 compatible Optane memory won't be released for several years. 

Intel plans to make 3rd Gen Optane DDR5 Compatible - Optane DC is here it stay  

Intel has stated that they wish to improve Optane moving forward, but at this time we do not know how Optane will change over time. Intel has the option to shrink their Optane manufacturing process to lower its power consumption or otherwise tweak their design to offer similar benefits. Reducing the power consumption of Optane will be vital if the company wants to continue delivering attractive levels of storage per DIMM slot unless they want to provide their Optane DIMMs with external power sources or utilise DIMM slots beyond their standard power specifications. 

To be successful Optane needs to be cheaper than DRAM, offer enough performance for the cost difference to be worthwhile and provide datacentre customers with the ability to take advantage of the memory's non-volatile nature. Moving forward Intel must plan to offer closer to DRAM performance while also retaining their cost and capacity per DIMM advantages, as otherwise, Optane DC will lose its momentum. 

With Intel's delays to 10nm slowing the company's CPU progress, Optane has become a significant differentiator between Intel and AMD, as Intel's exclusive support for Optane will deliver the company what may be a critical advantage over their rival when conducting specific workloads. Optane support is a killer feature that AMD lacks, but the question now is whether or not Optane will be successful enough to slow AMD's progress within the server market. 

You can join the discussion on Intel's plans to make 3rd generation Optane DDR5 compatible on the OC3D Forums

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