Want to use 3D XPoint DIMMs with Intel Purley Xeons? Wait a couple of years for second-gen

Not first-gen Purley in 2017 as we were sorta promised

Intel will fab Xeon processors that support 3D XPoint DIMMs in two years, its CEO signaled to analysts on a conference call this month.

3D XPoint is Micron and Intel's post-NAND, non-volatile memory technology that is claimed to be faster than NAND, with near-DRAM speed, and denser and longer endurance. It is intended to fill a performance gap between DRAM and NAND and provide storage-class (Persistent) memory.

Intel is sampling 3D XPoint SSDs with OEM customers now but such drives will use an NVMe/PCIe interface, which is slower than putting the media on the faster memory channel using DIMM sockets.

In a conference call on the day Intel announced its Q3 2016 figures, chief exec Brian Krzanich said this about XPoint SSDs: "On the 3D XPoint, it will be qualified at the end of [2016's fourth] quarter. And we're shipping thousands of samples to customers, we're shipping samples already, we'll ship thousands through this quarter. And it ramps in 2017... revenue growth in 2017, samples, thousands in the fourth quarter and qualified at the end of the quarter.

"There will be a second generation of Purley that includes 3D XPoint. It allows pooling of memory, and then there will be future ones that will allow additional pooling of things like FPGA. So, each one of these now add some additional features across the rack that really helps in the overall system performance."

We understand that Krzanich means second-generation Purley chips will take 3D XPoint memory DIMMs. This Xeon processor family is due to arrive in 2018, just in time for Intel to deliver these next-gen CPUs and XPoint DIMMs for the Aurora supercomputer in late 2018.

The Purley gates

Purley is the codename for a 14nm Skylake-microarchitecture server processor.

Purley processors are understood to have up to 28 cores and 56 threads, and support the 100Gbps Omni-Path interconnect and Silicon Photonics. We believe Intel is set on delivering versions of Purley chips with integrated accelerators, such as encryption and compression engines, graphics, media transcoders and FPGAs.

Krzanich was being coy, and trying to blur the situation to avoid tipping his hand. To us it sounds as though first-generation Purley chips will not interface directly with 3D XPoint DIMMs – whereas last year it was strongly suggested that first-gen Purley parts would hook up with 3D XPoint DIMMs. These first-generation processors are sampling with selected customers now with general availability expected around mid-2017.

Meanwhile, second-generation Purley will arrive the following year, and most definitely include tight 3D XPoint integration. According to Krzanich's comment, third-generation Purley will have pooled FPGAs; we think this third-generation series could be a 2019-2020 story.

It's possible that 3D XPoint DIMMs could be supported before second-generation Purley silicon arrives, with that processor bringing XPoint closer to the CPU somehow, perhaps with an Omni-Path interconnect.

There has been speculation that Intel could use 3D XPoint as a large-scale DRAM substitute, with terabytes of 3D XPoint used to bulk out a DRAM core, save DRAM cost and provide performance near that of a full DRAM system but at a lower cost.

It will be interesting to understand Micron's intentions concerning support of proprietary fast Intel connects, like Omni-Path and Silicon Photonics, as well as OpenCAPI and Gen-Z interconnects.

A key set of events will be how the server OEMs react to 3D XPoint DIMMs. If they reject those, or are half-hearted, as they are with flash DIMMs currently, then Intel gets a second bite at the server XPoint adoption cherry with gen-two Purley processors.

None of this is simple. Keep watching the XPoint space. ®

Broader topics

Other stories you might like

  • Venezuelan cardiologist charged with designing and selling ransomware
    If his surgery was as bad as his opsec, this chap has caused a lot of trouble

    The US Attorney’s Office has charged a 55-year-old cardiologist with creating and selling ransomware and profiting from revenue-share agreements with criminals who deployed his product.

    A complaint [PDF] filed on May 16th in the US District Court, Eastern District of New York, alleges that Moises Luis Zagala Gonzalez – aka “Nosophoros,” “Aesculapius” and “Nebuchadnezzar” – created a ransomware builder known as “Thanos”, and ransomware named “Jigsaw v. 2”.

    The self-taught coder and qualified cardiologist advertised the ransomware in dark corners of the web, then licensed it ransomware to crooks for either $500 or $800 a month. He also ran an affiliate network that offered the chance to run Thanos to build custom ransomware, in return for a share of profits.

    Continue reading
  • China reveals its top five sources of online fraud
    'Brushing' tops the list, as quantity of forbidden content continue to rise

    China’s Ministry of Public Security has revealed the five most prevalent types of fraud perpetrated online or by phone.

    The e-commerce scam known as “brushing” topped the list and accounted for around a third of all internet fraud activity in China. Brushing sees victims lured into making payment for goods that may not be delivered, or are only delivered after buyers are asked to perform several other online tasks that may include downloading dodgy apps and/or establishing e-commerce profiles. Victims can find themselves being asked to pay more than the original price for goods, or denied promised rebates.

    Brushing has also seen e-commerce providers send victims small items they never ordered, using profiles victims did not create or control. Dodgy vendors use that tactic to then write themselves glowing product reviews that increase their visibility on marketplace platforms.

    Continue reading
  • Oracle really does owe HPE $3b after Supreme Court snub
    Appeal petition as doomed as the Itanic chips at the heart of decade-long drama

    The US Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear Oracle's appeal to overturn a ruling ordering the IT giant to pay $3 billion in damages for violating a decades-old contract agreement.

    In June 2011, back when HPE had not yet split from HP, the biz sued Oracle for refusing to add Itanium support to its database software. HP alleged Big Red had violated a contract agreement by not doing so, though Oracle claimed it explicitly refused requests to support Intel's Itanium processors at the time.

    A lengthy legal battle ensued. Oracle was ordered to cough up $3 billion in damages in a jury trial, and appealed the decision all the way to the highest judges in America. Now, the Supreme Court has declined its petition.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022