Optane DC Persistent Memory puts 3D Xpoint goodness in DIMM slots

Intel and Micron's 3D Xpoint non-volatile memory has proven a unique bridge between NAND and DRAM in the storage hierarchy. Today, Intel is bringing the persistent, low-latency characteristics of 3D Xpoint to DIMM slots with a product called Optane DC Persistent Memory. Intel says Optane DC Persistent Memory sticks will be available in capacities up to 512 GB per module, versus about 128 GB in today's largest DIMMs using DDR4 SDRAM. With Optane DIMMs, Intel claims its servers will be able to employ up to 3 TB of non-volatile yet lighting-fast memory per socket for crunching the huge data sets businesses have gathered for analysis in today's world.

 As a result, the company claims servers with Optane DC PM inside should be able to keep data-hungry analytics applications fed without the trip out to the PCIe bus and remote storage that still has to be negotiated even with Optane DC SSDs. Intel says the high capacity and potentially high performance of these DIMMs will be ideal for "cost-effective, large-capacity in-memory database solutions" while also allowing servers to stay up longer and recover more quickly after shutdowns or blackouts. Optane DC PM sticks can also secure persistent data using encryption acceleration built into the hardware itself.

Intel loves to cite the Aerospike NoSQL database as a performance reference point for Optane products, and in the case of Optane DIMMs, the blue team says an Aerospike server can take seconds to restart versus the minutes required of a traditional system with bus-connected storage and traditional DRAM. Intel also notes that a Redis server running on Optane DIMMs can host more instances of that service at the same SLA compared to a system populated with nothing but DRAM.

Intel says Optane DC Persistent Memory sticks are sampling today and will be shipping to "select customers" later this year. Broad availability for the technology is slated to begin in 2019. The company believes software developers will want to familiarize themselves with the characteristics of Optane DIMMs ahead of time, so it's ofering remote access to test hardware hosted in its data centers to those who want to take the tech for a spin with their workloads.

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