This article needs to be updated.(September 2017)
3D XPoint (pronounced three dee cross point) is a non-volatile memory (NVM) technology by Intel and Micron Technology; it was announced in July 2015 and is available on the open market under brand names Optane (Intel) and subsequently QuantX (Micron) since April 2017. Bit storage is based on a change of bulk resistance, in conjunction with a stackable cross-gridded data access array. Initial prices are less than dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) but more than flash memory.
Development of 3D XPoint began around 2012. Intel and Micron had developed other non-volatile phase-change memory (PCM) technologies previously;[note 1] Mark Durcan of Micron said 3D XPoint architecture differs from previous offerings of PCM, and uses chalcogenide materials for both selector and storage parts of memory cell that are faster and more stable than traditional PCM materials like GST. But today, it is thought as a subset of ReRAM.
By 2015 full details of the technology had not been given by Intel or Micron, though the technology is apparently not based on electrons. 3D XPoint has been stated to use electrical resistance and to be bit addressable. Similarities to the resistive random-access memory under development by Crossbar Inc. have been noted, but 3D XPoint uses different storage physics. 3D XPoint developers indicate that it is based on changes in resistance of the bulk material. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich responded to ongoing questions on the XPoint material that the switching was based on "bulk material properties". Intel has stated that 3D XPoint does not use a phase-change or memristor technology, although this is disputed by independent reviewers.
Individual data cells do not need a transistor, so packing density will be four times that of DRAM.
Media reports comment that as of April 2016, no other supplier had developed a working resistive RAM or phase-change memory technology that was sampling and matched 3D XPoint's performance and endurance.
In mid 2015 Intel announced the Optane brand for storage products based on 3D XPoint technology. Micron (using the QuantX brand) estimated the memory to be sold for about half the price of dynamic random-access memory (DRAM), but four to five times the price of flash memory. Initially, a wafer fabrication facility in Lehi, Utah, operated by IM Flash Technologies LLC (an Intel-Micron joint venture) made small quantities of 128 Gbit chips in 2015. They stack two 64 Gbit planes. In early 2016 mass production of the chips was expected in 12 to 18 months.
In early 2016 IM Flash announced that the first generation of solid-state drives would achieve 95000 IOPS throughput with 9 microsecond latency. This low latency significantly increases IOPS at low queue depths for random operations. At Intel Developer Forum 2016, Intel demonstrated PCI Express (PCIe) 140GB development boards showing 2.4−3× improvement in benchmarks compared to PCIe NAND flash solid-state drives (SSDs), much lower performance than estimated a year before. On March 19, 2017, Intel announced their first product: a PCIe card available in the second half of 2017.
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"The switching mechanism is via changes in resistance of the bulk material," was all Intel would add in response to questions sent via email.
- Merrick, Rick, "Intel's Krzanich: CEO Q&A at IDF", www.eetimes.com, p. 2
- Jason Evangelho (July 28, 2015). "Intel And Micron Jointly Unveil Disruptive, Game-Changing 3D XPoint Memory, 1000x Faster Than NAND". Hot Hardware.
Intel's Rob Crooke explained, 'You could put the cost somewhere between NAND and DRAM.'
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An Intel spokesperson categorically denied that it was a phase-change memory process or a memristor technology. Spin-transfer torque was also dismissed
- Malventano, Allyn (2 June 2017). "How 3D XPoint Phase-Change Memory Works". PC Perspective. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
- Charlie Demerjian (September 12, 2016). "Intel's Xpoint is pretty much broken". Semi-Accurate. Retrieved March 31, 2017.
- By Chris Mellor, The Register. “Goodbye: XPoint is Intel's best exit from NAND production hell.” April 21, 2016. April 22, 2016.
- Smith, Ryan (18 Aug 2015), "Intel Announces Optane Storage Brand For 3D XPoint Products", AnandTech
- Lucas Mearian (August 9, 2016). "Micron reveals marketing details about 3D XPoint memory QuantX: Intel, Micron may have made a mistake announcing 3D XPoint a year ago". Computer World. Retrieved March 31, 2017.
- Smith, Ryan (18 August 2015), "Intel Announces Optane Storage Brand For 3D XPoint Products", www.anandtech.com,
products will be available in 2016, in both standard SSD (PCIe) form factors for everything from Ultrabooks to servers, and in a DIMM form factor for Xeon systems for even greater bandwidth and lower latencies. As expected, Intel will be providing storage controllers optimized for the 3D XPoint memory
- Merrick, Rick (14 Jan 2016), "3D XPoint Steps Into the Light", EE Times
- Cutress, Ian (26 August 2016). "Intel's 140GB Optane 3D Xpoint PCIe SSD Spotted at IDF". Anandtech. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
- Peter Bright (March 19, 2017). "Intel's first Optane SSD: 375GB that you can also use as RAM". Ars Technica. Retrieved March 31, 2017.
- Jon Figas (March 19, 2017). "Intel's first hyper-fast 3D drive is meant for servers". En Gadget. Retrieved March 31, 2017.
- "Intel Micron Webcast", www.youtube.com, 44 mins