Perhaps the most anticipated technology release this year is a delayed product line previously called Crystal Ridge or Apache Pass. The technology finally has a formal product name, Intel Optane DC Persistent Memory. This is the technology that will bring 3D XPoint into DIMM channels. The implications are enormous. We are at Intel’s headquarters in Santa Clara today getting briefed on the technology, but this is the solution that is generating a ton of industry buzz. It is also a technology we expected in 2017 with the Skylake-SP release.
Intel Optane DC Persistent Memory
At the Intel briefing, the company still held well short of full disclosure. Expect a rolling release of information that will border on maddening. At the same time, this was another step announcing that the technology is coming. Here is the quick punch list of what you need to know about Intel Optane DC Persistent Memory:
- DRAM like speeds
- Persistent storage, so one can write safely to the devices like one would SSDs
- 128GB, 256GB, 512GB capacities at launch
- Modules sit in on the low latency, high bandwidth DDR4 bus which is much faster than PCIe
- Intel Optane Persistent Memory is Byte accessible which means data can be written in place, rather than having to do page deletes like one does on NAND. Expect consistent performance
- Cascade Lake Xeon systems due out in the second half of 2018
- Expected to be supported in Purley platforms of the current generation Skylake-SP systems on the market today
- No external power supplies or supercapacitors
With that list we are going to add a few bits of commentary.
Intel did not disclose if there are going to be any model restrictions. We expect next-generation Intel Xeon Platinum SKUs to support Optane Persistent Memory. We do not expect Xeon Silver and Bronze to support the new technology. This is a category killer product so Intel is going to charge a premium. Expect RAM capacity limits to jump in the next generation to support 512GB Optane DIMMs.
The bigger piece of commentary, if you are doing in memory databases, key value stores or other similar applications, this is the killer technology that gets you more data closer to your CPUs.
Intel Optane DC Persistent Memory Industry Support
Intel Optane DC Persistent Memory already has wide support, including Linux and Windows. Microsoft apparently helped with the Linux port and it has been ported to other OSes.
VMware vSphere 6.7 has complete support for the programming model. That means direct access inside of the guest VM. Microsoft Hyper-V support is announced. Intel also did the KVM and Xen virtualization changes and the changes are being up-streamed. We expect virtualization support and OS support to be strong for this technology.
You can learn more about persistent memory programming at pmem.io.