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Wikibon drops bomb, says Intel's Optane could be a flop...tane

Claims 3D XPoint headed for niche use as 3D NAND storms ahead

Intel's Optane 3D XPoint drives could be doomed to fail in the mass market because their performance and endurance advantages over 3D NAND SSDs are "nominal".

So claims Wikibon CTO David Floyer in a report that looks at Optane's performance and endurance advantages over 3D Flash by comparing Intel's 32GB Optane Series PCIe M.2 2280 Memory Module and Toshiba's 3D NAND-based XG5 M.2 drive.

The Optane M.2 drive was a whopping four times faster than the XG5. However, the XG5's performance can be increased by putting a DRAM cache in front of it with, for example, hybrid DRAM-3D NAND NVDIMMs, says Floyer, who said that would be less expensive than using Optane NVDIMMs.

Similarly the 2280 has better endurance than the XG5. However, Floyer notes that 3D NAND drives can be over-provisioned to boost endurance, and, at least in Floyer's view, this will be less expensive than buying Optane drives. He claims Optane costs six times more per terabyte than 3D NAND, leaving plenty of headroom for 3D NAND over-provisioning.

Floyer claims: "There is little differentiation between 3D XPoint and 3D NAND for use as storage. Serial performance is a wash. Endurance is a wash... The price difference is overwhelmingly in favour of 3D NAND, and will increase as vendor investment in 3D NAND fabs and research turns into very high volume later in 2017."

His report summary boldly states: "CIOs and CTOs should assume 3D XPoint will not be important to the enterprise, and not evaluate it further."

Intel first touted XPoint as having 1,000 times the performance and endurance of NAND just two years ago.

An Intel spokesperson said: "The '1,000X faster' claim compares the latency of 3D XPoint memory media to conventional NAND media. Intel Optane technology products show application performance when the media is integrated with a controller, driver stack, installed in a computing platform and benchmarked with an OS and software. This system-level performance is different than comparing media latency specifications. Products, like Optane memory, utilize interfaces and connections that affect overall performance of the system." ®

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