Intel to shut Optane reminiscence enterprise

It appears like the tip could also be in sight for Intel’s beleaguered Optane reminiscence enterprise. Tucked away inside a brutal Q2 2022 earnings launch for the corporate (extra on {that a} bit later in the present day) is a really curious assertion in a piece that talks about non-GAAP changes: Within the second quarter of 2022, we started the liquidation of our Intel Optane reminiscence enterprise. Moreover, Intel’s earnings report additionally notes that the corporate is taking a $559 million “Optane stock impairment” cost this quarter.

Past these two gadgets, there is no such thing as a additional info on Optane inside Intel’s earnings launch or its related submitting platform. We contacted firm representatives for extra info and are awaiting a response.

So, taking these things at face worth, it will seem that Intel is getting ready to wind down its Optane reminiscence enterprise and the event of related 3D XPoint know-how. There’s definitely a excessive diploma of nuance right here across the Optane title and product traces right here, which is why we’re in search of clarification from Intel, as Intel has a number of Optane merchandise, together with “Optane reminiscence” “reminiscence Persistent Optane” and “Optane SSD”. Nevertheless, inside Intel’s earlier earnings releases and different monetary paperwork, Optane’s complete enterprise unit has historically been known as its “Optane reminiscence enterprise,” so it seems that Intel is winding up the Optane enterprise unit, and never simply the Optane reminiscence product.

To replace: 6:40 p.m. Japanese Time

Upon our request, Intel has despatched a quick assertion concerning the Optane liquidation. Whereas it does not provide many particulars about Intel’s exit, it does verify that Intel is exiting your complete Optane enterprise.

We proceed to rationalize our portfolio in help of our IDM 2.0 technique. This contains evaluating the divestment of companies that aren’t worthwhile sufficient or will not be essential to our strategic targets. After cautious consideration, Intel plans to cease future product growth inside its Optane enterprise. We’re dedicated to supporting Optane clients via the transition.

Intel, in flip, used 3D XPoint as the idea for 2 product traces. For its knowledge heart clients, it provided Optane Persistent Reminiscence, which packaged 3D XPoint in DIMMs as a partial alternative for conventional DRAM. Optane DIMMs provided a better bit density than DRAM and, mixed with their non-volatile and chronic nature, turned a sexy providing for techniques that wanted large working reminiscence swimming pools and may benefit from their non-volatile nature. like database servers. In the meantime, Intel additionally used 3D XPoint as the inspiration for numerous storage merchandise, together with high-performance SSDs for the server and consumer market, and as a smaller high-speed cache to be used with slower NAND SSDs.

Nevertheless, the distinctive attributes of 3D XPoint have additionally been a problem for Intel for the reason that know-how’s launch. Regardless of being designed for scalability via layer stacking, 3D XPoint manufacturing prices have remained greater than NAND on a per-bit foundation, making the know-how considerably costlier than even the most important SSDs. efficiency. In the meantime, Optane DIMMs, whereas filling a novel area of interest, have been simply as costly and provided slower switch charges than DRAM. So, regardless of Intel’s efforts to supply a product that would cross the 2 product areas, for workloads that do not profit from the know-how’s distinctive capabilities, 3D XPoint ended up being nearly as good as DRAM or NAND of their respective duties: to fabricate Optane merchandise. a tough promote.

In consequence, Intel has been shedding cash on its Optane enterprise for many (if not all) of its lifespan, together with tons of of thousands and thousands of {dollars} in 2020. -outside of the instances they’ve launched these numbers, they have been within the purple when it comes to working earnings. Moreover, studies from Blocks & Information have claimed that Intel has a big oversupply of 3D XPoint chips, on the order of two years of stock earlier this 12 months. All of which underscores the problem Intel has discovered promoting Optane merchandise and elevating the price of a cancellation/cancellation, which Intel is doing in the present day with its $559 million Optane impairment cost.

Consequently, a potential Optane/3D XPoint liquidation has been within the tea leaves for some time now, and Intel has been taking steps to switch or shrink the enterprise. Specifically, the dissolution of the Intel/Micron IMFT three way partnership left Micron in possession of the only real manufacturing facility for 3D XPoint, whereas Micron deserted its personal 3D XPoint plans. And after producing 3D XPoint reminiscence in 2021, Micron ultimately bought the manufacturing facility to Texas Devices for different makes use of. Since then, Intel hasn’t had entry to a high-volume manufacturing facility for 3D XPoint, although if stock studies are true, they have not wanted to provide extra reminiscence in fairly a while.

In the meantime, on the product aspect, the liquidation of the Optane enterprise follows Intel’s earlier withdrawal from the consumer storage market. Whereas the corporate has launched two generations of Optane merchandise for the info heart market, it has by no means launched a second technology of shopper merchandise (eg Optane 905P). And, having bought its NAND enterprise to SK Hynix (now doing enterprise as Solidigm), Intel now not produces different forms of storage for patrons. Subsequently, eradicating the remaining merchandise from the info heart is the subsequent logical step, albeit an unlucky one.

Intel’s Earlier Optane Persistent Reminiscence Roadmap: What Will By no means Be

Total, Intel has chosen to wind down the Optane/3D XPoint enterprise at a essential time for the corporate. With the discharge of its Sapphire Rapids Xeon CPUs this 12 months, Intel was beforehand scheduled to launch a 3rd technology of Optane merchandise, most notably its “Crow Go” 3dr technology of persistent DIMMs, which amongst different issues would improve Optane DIMM know-how to make use of a DDR5 interface. Whereas growth of Crow Go is presumably full or practically full at this level (given Intel’s growth schedule and Sapphire Rapids delays), launching and supporting the product would nonetheless incur important upfront and long-term prices, which which might require Intel to help the know-how. for an additional technology.

As an alternative of Optane persistent reminiscence, Intel’s official technique is to show to CXL reminiscence know-how (CXL.mem), which permits unstable and non-volatile reminiscence to be linked to a CPU by way of a CXL-compliant PCIe bus. This might accomplish lots of the identical targets as Optane (nonvolatile reminiscence, giant capacities) with out the prices of creating a wholly separate reminiscence know-how. Sapphire Rapids, in flip, can be Intel’s first CXL-capable CPU, and the know-how typically has a lot broader business help.

AsteraLabs: CXL Reminiscence Topology

Nonetheless, Intel’s withdrawal of Optane/3D XPoint marks an unlucky finish to an thrilling product line. 3D XPoint DIMMs have been a novel concept even when they did not fairly work, and 3D XPoint made SSDs ridiculously quick because of their enormous random I/O benefit, and that is a function in contrast to some other SSD vendor. . it is going to have the ability to absolutely replicate anytime quickly. So for the solid-state storage market, this marks the tip of an period.

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