When Intel first started talking about the 3D Xpoint memory it created in cooperation with Micron, the possible uses for the technology encompassed both storage-like devices as well as system RAM. Fast-forward over two years to the present day, and we've seen what 3D Xpoint can do in Intel's Optane storage devices. There's still a ways to go before we get to see what a system using 3D Xpoint for main memory is like, though. Intel confirmed yesterday that memory modules based on 3D Xpoint are slated for release in the second half of next year.
Intel says it anticipates rapid growth for 3D Xpoint as a technology. According to the slide deck that accompanied its presentation yesterday, the company expects the market for 3D Xpoint products to reach about $8 billion in five years. We like what we've seen from the technology so far, including the Optane cache drives, the SSD 900p, and the SSD DC P4800X. It will be interesting to see how further proliferation of 3D Xpoint affects the wider computing market.
In a way, we already knew when memory modules using 3D Xpoint tech would arrive. Around this time last year, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich remarked on an earnings call that the Purley platform—now known as Xeon Scalable CPUs and their associated chipsets—wouldn't support 3D Xpoint memory. More recently, Intel announced the Cascade Lake refresh of the Xeon Scalable family and committed to launching Optane DIMMs alongside it. The company said at that time that it was already sampling 3D Xpoint memory modules to its partners, so the next-year launch window makes sense.