In July 2015, Intel announced a new memory technology called 3D XPoint, and asserted that it would be 1,000 times faster than traditional NAND flash at the architectural level. After roughly 20 months, the company has revealed its first 3D XPoint drive, the DC P4800X.
Intel is calling its 3D XPoint SSDs Optane drives. Taking into account hardware and software overhead, Intel asserts that the P4800X is roughly five to eight times faster than leading SSDs at low queue depths, which is where most SSDs do their work. Specifically, the company says that it will allow for 2GB/s random read and write speeds. In terms of pure throughput (speed), Intel says the drive is roughly three times as fast as the company’s DC P3700 drive, which is a bold claim considering that the P3700, an NVMe drive, is capable of delivering 2,800MB/s sequential read and 2,000MB/s sequential write speeds.
The new Optane drive also uses the PCIe NVMe interface, and features a new Intel Optane controller. Coupled with the new 3D XPoint architecture, the P4800X is said to use secretive materials that allow it to run much faster than NAND SSDs.
Intel says that its Optane drives will automatically accelerate existing applications and claims that the P4800X will consume roughly 12-14 watts under a heavy load, which is slightly more power-efficient than competing high-end NAND solutions.
There are several caveats to the SSD, however. It’s not a drive that’s designed for long sequential read and write sessions, which is useful when you’re transferring large files. Intel asserts that traditional high-end 3D NAND drives are better at those tasks, and says they will exist alongside Optane SSDs as a result. Another big caveat is that the drive is designed for data centers, though consumers with 200-series motherboards and Kaby Lake CPUs will be able to use it. The last caveat is that the drive is very expensive. The 375GB SSD will cost $1520.
While the P4800X is geared for enterprise solutions, you can expect to see Intel bring its Optane drive technology to consumers in the near future.