Micron and Intel co-developed 3D XPoint memory as a high-performance alternative to flash, but so far only Intel has brought products to market, under their Optane brand. Despite owning the fab where 3D XPoint memory is produced, the closest Micron has come to commercializing that tech for themselves was their announcement in 2016 that upcoming Micron products using 3D XPoint memory would be branded as Micron QuantX, their counterpart to Intel's Optane brand. Years later, we finally have a concrete product announcement, and they seem to have abandoned the QuantX name.

The new Micron X100 is a high-end enterprise NVMe SSD to compete against Intel's upcoming second-generation Optane SSDs and any specialized low-latency SLC NAND their competitors can come up with (eg. Samsung Z-NAND, Toshiba XL-FLASH). Micron has not yet released full specs for the X100, but the top line performance numbers are 2.5M IOPS for 4kB random reads and around 10GB/s for sequential transfers—both likely to be new records for a single SSD if they can ship it soon enough. A preview video posted by Micron includes a graph that labels the 2.5M IOPS figure as being tested at QD1, which sounds too good to be true: almost 5x the performance of Intel's current Optane SSDs. Micron says the X100 should be good for at least 9GB/s for reads, writes, or mixed workloads, reflecting how much closer 3D XPoint is to symmetrical read/write performance than any flash memory. (And also suggesting that the controller may be the bottleneck for sequential transfers more than the 3D XPoint memory itself.) For QoS, Micron is listing both read and write latencies of 8µs or less, slightly better than the 10µs that Intel's current Optane SSDs promise.

The card Micron is showing off today is a full-height half-length PCIe x16 add-in card, so it should be able to reach full throughput even on PCIe 3.0 systems. Micron says the X100 will be in limited sampling to select customers sometime this quarter, so it's not going to be shaking up the storage market much in the immediate future but it is far enough past the vaporware stage that Micron should be able to deliver the rest of the specs soon—including the range of available capacities. Since Micron hasn't said anything about a second generation of 3D XPoint memory being ready, the density and costs of the X100 shouldn't be drastically different from Intel's Optane offerings.

Source: Micron

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  • IntelUser2000 - Friday, October 25, 2019 - link

    What the heck are you talking about? Optane on SSD has a latency of ~10us. The DC PMM versions are 40x faster in terms of latency.
  • rahvin - Friday, October 25, 2019 - link

    Cooke might not want to but there are certainly parts of INTC that will move to limit it to Intel platforms to try to use it as a competitive advantage just like they did with Thunderbolt (even after the standard was opened up it's still difficult if not impossible to get TB on an AMD platform). It's trivial for low level departments at INTC to do this by simply refusing to provide the technical interface details without a huge payment.

    You won't see Optane on an AMD platform until there is an open standard for Non-volitale DIMM type interfaces that is platform agnostic. AMD isn't going to spend the cash developing it and neither is anyone else. Get an open standard that generalizes Optane to any Nonvolatile memory such as the hopefully coming MRAM and others and it'll happen very quickly that this is exported to other platforms.
  • Diogene7 - Saturday, October 26, 2019 - link

    @rahvin: I agree as well that I don’t think we will see any Storage Class Memory (SCM) used on AMD platform until there is an open standard for Non Volatile Memory (NVM) DIMM (NVDIMM).

    That is the reason why I think AMD will wait for the JEDEC NVDIMM-P standard to be completed, which I hope will be the case in ~2020.

    Then add ~ 2 or 3 years before seeing the 1st products on the market that exploit a new standard, and so in ~2022/2023, there might be AMD CPU that will support Non Volatile Memory (NVM) DIMM using Storage Class Memory (SCM) like RRAM, MRAM, Carbon Nanotubes RAM (NRAM), and maybe 3D-XPoint if Micron decide to make it compliant with NVDIMM-P standard.

    At first it seems likely that AMD would first focus on CPU for Data Center as it is where the Return On Investment (ROI) will be the highest for them, and hopefully, a few years later, it would trickle down to consumer CPU (~2023 - 2025).

    But I wish soooo much that a future version of Qualcomm mobile SoC (System-on-Chip) (a future Qualcomm Snapdragon 885 for 2022 smartphones ?) and Qualcomm computer CPU SoC (a future genreration of Qualcomm 8cx for 2022) to support the JEDEC NVDIMM-P standard, and also a mobile version of the fabric Gen-Z to finally have less than 1micro-second Persistent Memory (PM) in mobile devices : it is a DISRUPTIVE technology that will significantly improve the end user experience with visible responsiveness improvements.

    If Qualcomm implement the JEDEC NVDIMM-P in their SoCs, it could allow different device manufacturers to use different flavor of SCM to even more differentiate their products user experience for different market segments (a bit like eMMC is used in low end laptop, SATA SSD in mid-end laptop, and NVMe SSD in top end laptop).

    I dream of a fanless laptop, with a mobile SoC using ONLY Non Volatile Memory (NVM) like for example Spin Orbit Torque - MRAM (SOT-MRAM) as cache memory, and then STT-MRAM or Carbon Nanotube (NRAM) as RAM memory, and then at least 512GB NVDIMM-P DIMM like RRAM / Carbon Nanotube (NRAM) as a bootable storage (to replace UFS 3.0 / NVMe SSD) : It would dramatically improve the device overall responsiveness, and at some point, with adapting the software to take advantage of the fact the all the memory is Non Volatile, brand new usage.
  • deil - Friday, October 25, 2019 - link

    Rome will be fine with ddr4 ram and DB's on those just fine.
    for anyone who needs performance in 2U this will be a killer drive, If it can work on PCIE4.0 x8 close to those numbers (so almost saturate x8) then U2 server with 16 of those will yeld ~150GB/s and 40M IOPS. Considering the size its amazing upgrade.
  • rahvin - Friday, October 25, 2019 - link

    If the claimed performance is realized.

    Lets not forget that the initial claims of 3DXPoint performance ended up being spectacularly exaggerated.
  • Diogene7 - Saturday, October 26, 2019 - link

    @rahvin : You are mismatching the performance of the device using 3D X-Point (Optance SSD, Optane DC PMM) and the performance of the 3DX-Point chip itself (which is indeed ~1000x faster than flash).

    The marketing claims done by big companies, are very often done in a way to be true (from a boolean logic standpoint) but oftenly in a way that is misleading.

    It is a bit the same when a new generation of CPU is claimed to be up to 30% faster than a older generation CPU : if there exist ONLY 1 case scenario where the new CPU is 30% faster, then the sentence is true but it is quite misleading because in ALL other case scenarii, the new generation CPU won’t be 30% faster and might be the same as the older generation CPU...
  • Bp_968 - Saturday, October 26, 2019 - link

    Exactly. This is cool but the exciting use case for 3D xpoint nand is in DIMMs, no super fast SSDs (at least for me).
  • Diogene7 - Saturday, October 26, 2019 - link

    @Bp_968 : I agree, the potentially exciting use case for 3D-Xpoint chip is in DIMM like in Intel Optane DC PMM as it where the latency advantage of 3D-XPoint could be used.

    In the short term (up to 2022 included), as the the JEDEC standard NVDIMM-P isn’t yet completed (it may be completed in ~2020), Intel will try to sell the performance advantages of having Intel Xeon + Intel Optanne DC PMM together.

    However, as of 2019, I am very skeptical to the mid-term (between 2023 and 2026) or long term (after 2026) success of 3D-XPoint as a Storage Class Memory (SCM) because then, if all goes well, other competitors may begins to introduce on the market CPU that support the standard NVDIMM-P, which should allow to use different kind of Persistent Memory (PM) like RRAM, MRAM, Carbon Nanotubes RAM (NRAM),... which may have better overall performance (I am particularly skeptical about the ability to reduce 3D-XPoint power consumption).
  • Yojimbo - Friday, October 25, 2019 - link

    "Since Micron hasn't said anything about a second generation of 3D XPoint memory being ready, the density and costs of the X100 shouldn't be drastically different from Intel's Optane offerings."

    I am pretty sure Micron said they would only release 3D XPoint products once the second generation was ready. They decided to skip the first generation entirely and only used their first generation capacity to supply Intel's demand. After second generation, there will be a split between the Intel and Micron technology, but I believe the second generation was jointly developed by Micron and Intel. Micron developed their 3D XPoint SSD controller in-house, so the major difference between Micron's and Intel's upcoming 3D XPoint SSD offerings should be the controller, although there also is the issue of Intel shifting their production to a different fab.
  • Billy Tallis - Friday, October 25, 2019 - link

    Micron's timeline as of last year was definitely for their first 3D XPoint-based products to ship after R&D on second-gen 3DXP concluded. I'm not sure they promised that they wouldn't ship anything using first-gen 3DXP. Until either Intel or Micron starts giving more concrete information about the status of second-gen 3DXP and what it does for performance, power, and density, I'm not entirely comfortable assuming that the recently announced products will feature the new memory.

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