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Samsung's Z-NAND to Compete Favorably With Intel's Optane

As big data usage is becoming ubiquitous, and workload data-sets increase in both size and complexity, new ways of connecting processing resources to storage are being developed. Intel and Micron's partnership in developing 3D XPoint memory came as a way for computer systems to reduce their bottlenecks in storing data for processing, with a particular emphasis on reducing latency. Samsung, however, has enough resources to try and provide alternatives for the emergent market needs, and being one of the most important players in the NAND industry, it seems the company is betting on the Z-NAND wagon.

For now, Z-NAND as it is being developed by Samsung, is expected to be a new rendition of SLC (Single-Level Cell) NAND, with increased controller tweaks and improvements to achieve greater IOPS in both random and sequential workloads. SLC has already been widely used in the SSD market, though in recent years it has been giving way to density-oriented technologies, such as MLC and, more recently, TLC NAND, in an effort to lower the $/GB equation. Z-NAND is a return to the SLC roots, with some very relevant tricks up its sleeve - while 3D XPoint's call to fame was sometimes up to 10x lower latency (in the order of 10/10μs), Z-NAND is also bringing latency to levels hitherto unknown to NAND memory - specifically, to the 12-20/16μs realms.

Intel Readies Optane DIMM Roll-out for 2018

Intel has reportedly slated launch of its Optane DIMM for the second half of 2018. The Optane DIMM marks the biggest change in computer memory in over two decades, and heralds the era of "persistent memory," which combines the best characteristics of DRAM and NAND flash, in that it has the speed and low-latency of DRAM, but the persistence (ability to store data in the absence of power) of NAND flash. Combining the two will be made possible with improvements to the speed and latency of 3D XPoint memory. Intel is currently selling consumer SSDs based on the technology, and has increased production of 3D XPoint chips.

Intel presented the Optane DIMM at the 2017 USB Global Technology Conference. It described Optane DIMM as a primary storage device that will function as a memory-mapped device, but with much higher storage densities than what's possible with current DDR4 DRAM. The enterprise segment, as usual, will have the first take of the technology, with Intel targeting the exascale computing (supercomputers nearing ExaFLOP/s compute throughput) industry, trickling down to other enterprise segments, before finally making its way to the client/consumer segments. This development is also a polite nudge to the DRAM industry to get its act together, and either bring down prices or scale up densities, or miss the bus of change.

Source: Tom's Hardware

Intel, Micron Increase 3D XPoint Manufacturing Capacity Through Fab Expansion

Today, Intel and Micron announced the completion of an expansion to Building 60 (B60) at the IM Flash facilities in Lehi, Utah. The expanded fab will produce 3D XPoint memory media, a building block of Intel Optane technology that includes Intel Optane memory for clients, the recently announced Intel Optane SSD 900P Series and new capacities and form factors of the Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X Series. A ribbon-cutting was held at the facility with Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, employees of the facility and representatives from Intel and Micron.

The IM Flash joint venture was created in 2006 to manufacture non-volatile memory for both Intel and Micron, starting with NAND for use in SSDs, phones, tablets and more. In 2015, IM Flash began manufacturing 3D XPoint technology, the first entirely new memory media in 25 years. The technology was developed to meet the quickly expanding data needs for all types of customers. 3D XPoint technology uses a crosspoint structure to deliver a cell and array architecture that can switch states significantly faster than NAND.

Intel Product Launch Schedule till Mid-2018 Leaked

Intel is on the verge of launching its 8th generation Core "Coffee Lake" processor family with six SKUs, and its top-tier Z370 Express chipset, early next month. Those looking for cheaper motherboards and don't intend on overclocking their processor, will have to wait until the first quarter of 2018, with the company confirming Q1-2018 as the launch window of three of its client-desktop chipsets for 8th generation Core processors, in a leaked Desktop outlook slide, scored by GamersNexus.

Among the new desktop chipsets launched will be the H370 Express, B360 Express, and the H310 Express. The H370 Express offers essentially the same platform connectivity as the Z370 Express, minus CPU overclocking and NVIDIA SLI certification. The B360 Express has a slimmer connectivity loadout, and lacks SLI support, but its predecessors have been generally preferred by gamers wanting to build single-GPU rigs with CPUs running at stock speeds, which is why major motherboard brands have built gamer-centric motherboards on B-series chipsets. The H310 chipset has the lightest connectivity, and is designed to power entry-level motherboards.

Intel to Introduce 3D XPoint DIMM Tech to the Market on 2018

Early on in Intel's 3D XPoint teasers and announcements, the company planned to have this memory integrated not only as a system cache solution or SSD replacement, but also as a potential substitute for DRAM memory. The objective: to revolutionize the amount of DRAM memory a given system can carry, at a much lower price per GB, with a somewhat acceptable performance penalty. Intel describes the current DRAM implementation as too small, too expensive, and too unstable (read: data loss on power loss) to continue being on top of the memory food chain. This is where the 3D Xpoint DIMM implementation can bear fruits, by offering significantly higher amounts of storage at much lower pricing, while keeping attractive bandwidth and latency performance. DRAM will still be used for system-critical operations and booting, albeit in lower capacities, and will be used side by side with these 3D XPoint DIMM slots, which will take in the bulk of the work.

This kind of usage for Intel's 3D XPoint also delivers an interesting side-effect: since this memory is persistent (which means that data isn't lost when the power is turned off,) interruption or loss of power won't erase the work in memory. At the same time, this means that this kind of DRAM-substitute memory requires some security precautions DRAM doesn't, since anyone with direct physical access to the stick could just remove one and take it with all the data inside. Even though a 2018 time to market seems a little to optimistic, considering all the changes this implementation would require from adopters, the technology is definitely promising enough to tempt users to make the jump.

Source: EXPreview

Intel Shows 1.59x Performance Improvement in Upcoming Intel Xeon Scalable Family

Intel today unveiled significant performance advances in its upcoming Intel Xeon Processor Scalable family. At the SAP Sapphire NOW conference, Intel showed up to 1.59x higher Intel Xeon processor performance running in-memory SAP HANA workloads over the generation it replaces, demonstrating what the new products will deliver to help meet the increasingly complex demands of big-data, in-memory workloads in the modern data center.

Diane Bryant, group president of the Data Center Group at Intel, outlined how the Intel Xeon Processor Scalable family - available in mid-2017 - will provide enhanced performance to in-memory applications like SAP HANA. This will provide customers faster time-to-insight and allow organizations to rapidly respond to change.

JEDEC Says DDR5 Standard Development Rapidly Advancing: ETA, 2018

JEDEC Solid State Technology Association, responsible for creating the standards on which all of your versions of DDR memory are based upon, recently announced that development of the DDR5 memory standard is well underway, and in time for a 2018 release. The standards body said DDR5 memory will provide double the bandwidth and density versus current generation DDR4. along with delivering improved channel efficiency. Though considering the rate at which DDR4 prices have been increasing as of late, we really should fell a little uneasy at what this new memory standard's adoption will entail.

The current highest base clock that JEDEC allows in their DDR4 memory standard before "overclocking" takes over is DDR4-2400 - with timings ranging from 15~18 for the CAS latency, as well as tRCD, and tRP. And if, as JEDEC says, DDR5 is to be "twice as fast", that could imply that we could end up seeing DDR5-4800. Consider that for a moment: DDR4 kits today only go so far as DDR4-4266, and those are so few and far between that they'll cost you a singular kidney.

Micron's QuantX-based Products to Ship Late 2017

While Intel has made some definite announcements and product launches of its own take on 3D XPoint technology with its Optane-based professional and consumer products, Micron has been a little late to the party on both. However, recent reports peg Micron's take on the new memory technology, under its QuantX brand, to ship later this year.

Micron is apparently taking a path that differs from Intel's though, in that it's looking to license its 3D Xpoint technology to other storage makers (not currently known which), in SSD or DDR-like formats, according to the company. However, these products will likely first target the enterprise space, with QuantX-based SSDs on the PCI-Express 3.0/NVMe protocols, with capacities of up to 1.4TB. Micron is aligning QuantX with emerging throughput technologies like Gen-Z, which could expand QuantX's reach towards the ARM server market, which has seen increasing interest in recent times.. The QuantX storage and memory will have their own dedicated controllers, sitting close to the CPU for quick data transfers, thus reducing potential bottlenecks.

Source: IT World

Samsung's Z- SSD Featuring Z-NAND Makes a Physical Appearance

NAND has come here to stay, and it's market penetration still has a lot of leeway. Samsung, bar none the biggest and best player in the NAND field, is in a uniquely privileged position to develop new technologies and capitalize on them. Remember that Samsung has so many distinct product lines on which to monetize its advancements that any new investment is hardly a make it or break it affair.

Z-NAND is Samsung's answer to other developing technologies such as 3D XPoint, of which Intel has just announced the first commercial product. Z-NAND looks to stand at the intersection between NAND and DRAM, and is more of an evolution of the NAND design than it is a totally new technology (thus distancing itself from the likes of 3D XPoint.)

Intel Debuts its 3D XPoint Technology with Optane DC P4800X Datacenter SSD

Today, Intel unveiled the Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X Series and Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X Series with Intel Memory Drive Technology, enabling new possibilities to transform storage and memory architectures for the data center. Deployed as blazing fast storage or caching tier, Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X breaks the confines of traditional storage to significantly increase scale per server and accelerate applications. When deployed as extended memory, this drive expands the system memory pool, creating bigger, more cost-effective memory to gain higher quality insights.

An industry-leading combination of high throughput, low latency, high quality of service and high endurance enable the creation of solutions that remove data bottlenecks, unleash CPU utilization and deliver unprecedented insights. Intel Optane SSDs offer unrivaled performance at low queue depth, where the vast majority of applications generate storage workloads, which means CPUs are more active and more fully utilized. Intel Optane SSDs for the data center let users do more work with the same servers, improving TCO or expanding capabilities. And because the drive is extremely responsive under any load, it is highly predictable and delivers ultra-fast service, consistently.

Intel Launches Site Detailing Optane Requirements: Skylake Users Need Not Apply

Microprocessor giant Intel has launched a new page dedicated to its 3D XPoint-based Optane memory solution, a technology that it jointly developed with memory manufacturer Micron back in 2015, and was supposed to be on the market by 2016. The company missed that date; however, the technology is still interesting to enthusiasts and power users alike, due to its promises of both high speed and large capacity, a seemingly unattainable combo in today's markets.

Unfortunately, it seems that any system built around when Optane was announced will not be able to run Optane-based SSDs. In the system requirements section of its page, Intel has indicated that Optane will not run on anything earlier than a Kaby Lake based CPU. No exceptions. Yes, that includes Skylake, Broadwell, and pretty much everything else besides Kaby Lake. You will also need a 200-series chipset or newer.

Intel Optane DC P4800X with 3D XPoint Offers 21x Endurance Over MLC NAND

Intel is readying a fleet of new SSDs based on its new 3D XPoint non-volatile memory, a technology that Intel hopes will replace NAND flash in the years to come. The company developed this technology in collaboration with Micron Technology, under its IMFlash Technologies banner. The first Intel SSDs with this memory will be sold under the Optane brand. There are several sub-brands targeting the various market segments (client, enterprise, data-center, etc.), and technical slides of the data-center targeted Optane DC P4800X SSD were leaked to the web.

One of the first Optane DC P4800X SSDs comes in a rather measly capacity of 375 GB. The drive is built in the half-height PCI-Express add-on card (AIC) form-factor, with PCI-Express 3.0 x4 host interface. The drive belts out sequential transfer rates of up to 2400 MB/s reads, with up to 2000 MB/s writes, which may not sound like much given that even TLC NAND flash based PCIe 3.0 x4 drives offer higher transfer rates; until you look at three key metrics - latency, random-access performance, and endurance.

Micron's Outlook for the Future of Memory: GDDR6, QuantX in 2017

After finally reaching mature yields (comparable to those of planar NAND processes), Micron's 32-layer first generation 3D NAND has grown increasingly prominent in the company's NAND output. Now, the company is looking to ramp-up production of their (currently sampling) 64-layer 3D NAND, promising "meaningful output" by the end of December 2017, looking for an 80% increase in total GB per wafer and a 30% decrease in production costs.

When it comes to the graphics subsystem memory, Micron is looking to transition their 20nm production to a "1x nm" (most likely 16nm) node, in a bid to improve cost per GB by around $20, with introduction of 16nm GDDR5 memory to be introduced later this year. However, GDDR5X volume is expected to grow significantly, in a bid to satisfy bandwidth-hungry uses through GPUs (like NVIDIA's GTX 1080 and potentially the upcoming 1080 Ti) and networking, with GDDR6 memory being introduced by the end of 2017 or early 2018. The company is still mum on actual consumer products based on their interpretation of the 3D XPoint products through their QuantX brand, though work is already under way on the second and third generation specifications of this memory, with Micron planning an hitherto unknown (in significance and product type) presence in the consumer market by the end of this year.

Soon: Kaby Lake-based Systems Carrying Intel Optane Solutions

Lenovo has recently released the specifications for their 2017 Thinkpad series line-up, with several models (T470p, L470, L570, T470, T570, X270 and Yoga 370) featuring the usual, evolutionary hardware improvements, such as being equipped with Intel's latest generation Kaby Lake processors and increased screen resolutions. However, one of the hardware announcements for the new Thinkpad series goes a little further than your usual, run-of-the-mill updates: these solutions will feature what is expected to be the first consumer-level adaptations of Intel's Optane technology.

Intel 8000p - The First Consumer-Grade 3D Xpoint Products

The Intel-Micron joint collaboration in the development of what is promised to be the next step in storage technology is inching ever closer to reality. According to Bench Life, which published a leaked specifications list for the upcoming Intel Optane Memory products, the first application for consumer-grade 3D XPoint technology straddles the line between an SSD and system RAM. Intel calls it a "System Accelerator" solution, and it's meant to operate as an intermediate caching solution between a system's RAM and storage. Codenamed "Stony Beach", Intel's 8000p (and entire 3D XPoint-based products) support is still up in the air, but it's expected that only Kaby Lake and subsequent platforms will be compatible with the technology - which, if true, is sure to limit the product's market penetration.

The consumer products will initially sport capacities of either 16GB or 32GB, leveraging the NVMe protocol at PCIe Gen 3.0 x2 bandwidth in the M.2 form-factor. Mirroring NAND technology, the greater capacity solution will sport the highest performance: with the 16GB part coming in at 1400 MB/s read and 300 MB/s write speeds, against the 32 GB's 1600 MB/s and 400 MB/s, respectively. We see similar results in regards to IOPS, with the 16GB solution offering up to 285,000 read and 70,000 write operations per second, against the 32 GB's solution respective 300,000 read and 120,000 write. As usual with new technologies, expect all these metrics to only go up in time.

Intel Optane Client SSDs to Debut Alongside "Kaby Lake" Processors

Intel's first client SSDs based on the company's revolutionary 3D XPoint memory technology, under the company's new Optane brand, could debut alongside the company's 7th generation Core "Kaby Lake" processors (late-2016), according to a leaked company slide. According to the slide, the company could launch at least three Optane branded SSD lines in either late Q4-2016 or Q1-2017, addressing three distinct market segments.

Leading the pack is the Optane "Mansion Beach" SSD, positioned in the upper-end of the "Enthusiast Workstation" segment, with PCIe gen 3.0 x4 interface, and NVMe support. A notch underneath this is the Optane "Brighton Beach" series, featuring PCIe gen 3.0 x2 interface. Interestingly, Intel doesn't have a mainstream SSD based on the 3D XPoint tech around this time, yet has an entry-level "System Accelerator" segment drive codenamed "Stony Beach," which also takes advantage of PCIe gen 3.0 x2. This drive comes in M.2 form-factor. Some time later (2018?), the company plans to launch a single-chip successor to "Stony Beach," codenamed "Carson Beach."

Source: BenchLife.info

Intel 7th Generation Core "Kaby Lake" and 200-series Chipset Platform Outlined

Intel's tick-tock product development cycle is disturbed. The cadence of launching a new CPU microarchitecture on a given silicon fab process, miniaturizing it to a smaller fab process, and then launching an even newer micro-architecture on that process; is about to change with the company's 7th generation Core "Kaby Lake" processor. When launched, it would be the third microarchitecture built on the company's 14 nm process, besides "Skylake" (current new architecture) and "Broadwell" (miniaturization of "Haswell" to 14 nm.) Some of the very first documents related to Kaby Lake began to move about, making news along the way. The architecture is scheduled to launch along with its companion 200-series chipset some time in 2016.

To begin with, Core "Kaby Lake" will continue to be built on the LGA1151 package, and will likely be backwards compatible with existing 100-series chipset motherboards with a firmware update. From what we get to understand from leaked material, it will not be a vastly newer architecture than Skylake, at least not of the kind Skylake was to Broadwell. There are still CPU performance enhancements on offer, an "enhanced full-range BClk overclocking," which could mean improved overclocking on chips with upwards-locked multipliers (although we won't get our hopes too high and call it a return of the BClk overclocking era). A bulk of the R&D will fall into improving the integrated graphics, to support multiple 5K displays, 10-bit HVEC and VP9 hardware-acceleration; platform-integrated Thunderbolt 3, and platform interface support for Intel Optane (3D XPoint memory).

Intel Shows Off Optane 3D XPoint SSD and SSD-DIMM Implementation

At the Oracle OpenWorld conference, Intel took the opportunity to show off its latest implementation of the revolutionary 3D XPoint memory technology, which aims to replace NAND flash as the staple high-performance solid-state storage technology; offering exponential gains in density and performance. Optane, codename for Intel's upcoming 3D XPoint SSD based on conventional storage interfaces (PCIe M.2, U.2, PCIe add-on card) and the modern NVMe protocol; was demoed on Oracle's X5-2 series 1U server, where it clocked 4.42 times the random access performance, and 6.44 times better latency, than the fastest NAND flash based SSD in those form-factors. Optane promises 7.13 times the throughput when used with Oracle software.

That was only part of the presentation. The other being an audacious new contraption, a prototype 3D XPoint based SSD in the DDR4 DIMM form-factor. Intel envisions high-capacity SSD storage to eliminate most system-level bottlenecks, and talk directly to the processor's integrated memory controller. System builders will be able to combine DDR4-DRAM memory modules with Optane DIMM modules over vacant channels, and end up with the lowest possible latency storage interface. According to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, Optane DIMM modules will be the closest that storage will have ever gone to the performance levels of DRAM, and should greatly accelerate in-memory database implementations.

Source: ThePlatform.net

Intel Readies First Consumer SSD Based on 3D Xpoint Memory

Intel plans to launch the first consumer SSD based on its new 3D Xpoint memory technology, a successor to NAND flash which promises exponential gains in performance and capacity, some time in 2016. The Intel-branded drive will be called Intel Optane, will come in modern form-factors such as M.2/NGFF, SATA-Express, PCI-Express (add-on card), and will take advantage of the new NVMe protocol.

Early prototypes of Optane demoed at IDF already offer up to 5.5 times the throughput of NAND flash-based DC P3700 series SSDs, and we're only talking about single-queue performance. Compared to the queue depth of just 32 commands for AHCI, NVMe offers command queue depth of a staggering 65,535 commands. Since Micron Technology is the co-developer of 3D Xpoint, it's likely that we'll also see Micron/Crucial branded drives based on this tech.

Source: The TechReport

Intel and Micron Produce Breakthrough Memory Technology

Intel Corporation and Micron Technology, Inc. today unveiled 3D XPoint technology, a non-volatile memory that has the potential to revolutionize any device, application or service that benefits from fast access to large sets of data. Now in production, 3D XPoint technology is a major breakthrough in memory process technology and the first new memory category since the introduction of NAND flash in 1989.

The explosion of connected devices and digital services is generating massive amounts of new data. To make this data useful, it must be stored and analyzed very quickly, creating challenges for service providers and system builders who must balance cost, power and performance trade-offs when they design memory and storage solutions. 3D XPoint technology combines the performance, density, power, non-volatility and cost advantages of all available memory technologies on the market today. The technology is up to 1,000 times faster and has up to 1,000 times greater endurance3 than NAND, and is 10 times denser than conventional memory.
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