Intel and Micron unveil new 3D XPoint Non Volatie Memory (NVM) for servers and storage

July 31, 2015 – 10:42 pm
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Storage I/O trends

Intel and Micron unveil new 3D XPoint Non Volatile Memory (NVM) for servers and storage

This is the first of a three-part series on the recent Intel and Micron 3D XPoint server storage memory announcement. Read Part II here and Part III here.

In a webcast the other day, Intel and Micron announced new 3D XPoint non-volatile memory (NVM) that can be used for both primary main memory (e.g. what’s in computers, serves, laptops, tablets and many other things) in place of Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM), for persistent storage faster than today’s NAND flash-based solid state devices (SSD), not to mention future hybrid usage scenarios. Note that this announcement while having the common term 3D in it is different from the earlier Intel and Micron announcement about 3D NAND flash (read more about that here).

Twitter hash tag #3DXpoint

The big picture, why this type of NVM technology is needed

Server and Storage I/O trends

  • Memory is storage and storage is persistent memory
  • No such thing as a data or information recession, more data being create, processed and stored
  • Increased demand is also driving density along with convergence across server storage I/O resources
  • Larger amounts of data needing to be processed faster (large amounts of little data and big fast data)
  • Fast applications need more and faster processors, memory along with I/O interfaces
  • The best server or storage I/O is the one you do not need to do
  • The second best I/O is one with least impact or overhead
  • Data needs to be close to processing, processing needs to be close to the data (locality of reference)


Server Storage I/O memory hardware and software hierarchy along with technology tiers

What did Intel and Micron announce?

Intel SVP and General Manager Non-Volatile Memory solutions group Robert Crooke (Left) and Micron CEO D. Mark Durcan did the joint announcement presentation of 3D XPoint (webinar here). What was announced is the 3D XPoint technology jointly developed and manufactured by Intel and Micron which is a new form or category of NVM that can be used for both primary memory in servers, laptops, other computers among other uses, as well as for persistent data storage.


Robert Crooke (Left) and Mark Durcan (Right)

Summary of 3D XPoint announcement

  • New category of NVM memory for servers and storage
  • Joint development and manufacturing by Intel and Micron in Utah
  • Non volatile so can be used for storage or persistent server main memory
  • Allows NVM to scale with data, storage and processors performance
  • Leverages capabilities of both Intel and Micron who have collaborated in the past
  • Performance Intel and Micron claim up to 1000x faster vs. NAND flash
  • Availability persistent NVM compared to DRAM with better durability (life span) vs. NAND flash
  • Capacity densities about 10x better vs. traditional DRAM
  • Economics cost per bit between dram and nand (depending on packaging of resulting products)

What applications and products is 3D XPoint suited for?

In general, 3D XPoint should be able to be used for many of the same applications and associated products that current DRAM and NAND flash-based storage memories are used for. These range from IT and cloud or managed service provider data centers based applications and services, as well as consumer focused among many others.


3D XPoint enabling various applications

In general, applications or usage scenarios along with supporting products that can benefit from 3D XPoint include among others’. Applications that need larger amounts of main memory in a denser footprint such as in-memory databases, little and big data analytics, gaming, wave form analysis for security, copyright or other detection analysis, life sciences, high performance compute and high-productivity compute, energy, video and content severing among many others.

In addition, applications that need persistent main memory for resiliency, or to cut delays and impacts for planned or un-planned maintenance or having to wait for memories and caches to be warmed or re-populated after a server boot (or re-boot). 3D XPoint will also be useful for those applications that need faster read and write performance compared to current generations NAND flash for data storage. This means both existing and emerging applications as well as some that do not yet exist will benefit from 3D XPoint over time, like how today’s applications and others have benefited from DRAM used in Dual Inline Memory Module (DIMM) and NAND flash advances over the past several decades.

Where to read, watch and learn more

Storage I/O trends

What this all means and wrap up

First, keep in mind that this is very early in the 3D XPoint technology evolution life-cycle and both DRAM and NAND flash will not be dead at least near term. Keep in mind that NAND flash appeared back in 1989 and only over the past several years has finally hit its mainstream adoption stride with plenty of market upside left. Continue reading Part II here and Part III here of this three-part series on Intel and Micron 3D XPoint along with more analysis and commentary.

Disclosure: Micron and Intel have been direct and/or indirect clients in the past via third-parties and partners, also I have bought and use some of their technologies direct and/or in-direct via their partners.

Ok, nuff said (for now)

Cheers
Gs

Greg Schulz – Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)
twitter @storageio

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