Intel Optane Technology SSDs and Memory Roadmap Leaked – 3D XPoint Based SSDs To Land By Year End Under Mansion Beach Platform


The roadmap for Intel’s upcoming Optane platform has finally leaked out, courtesy of the good folks over at Benchlife.info. The new platform powered by 3D XPoint memory, which is sort of the halfway point between volatile DRAM and non-volatile but slow 3D NAND memory, is one of the most anticipated updates in storage technology for quite some time. 3D NAND has reached the end of the tether in terms of performance and it’s about time that a brand new solution

Intel Optane SSD and Memory road map leaked, arriving under Mansion Beach and Stoney Beach platform by the end of 2016

Thanks to the road map we now know that:

  • The Intel Optane technology platform will have the nomenclature ending with the word “Beach”.

  • There will be two types of products at launch (SSD and Memory), however only one will be available to enthusiasts initially (SSD).

  • The roadmap of Optane based SSDs and Memory has been aligned with the overarching architecture that will be in play at the given time. This means that we are going to see Optane for the first time sometime near the end of 2016 (or early 2017 if Intel faces any delays).

At the end of this year, Intel Optane is going to debut for the mainstream side of things with the Mansion Beach platform under the overarching roadmap of Kaby lake. The Mansion Beach platform will be for the very first mainstream SSDs based on Optane tech and supporting the NVMe PCIe Gen 3 x4 configuration (4 lanes support).

Mansion beach will also have a relatively lower end variant: the PCIe 3.0 x2 variant by the name of Brighton Beach. All other specifications will remains the same, only the amount of PCI lanes the SSD can access will change. Mansion Beach will remain as is all through Kaby Lake (and Q1 2017) and will be refreshed when the time comes in 2018 and on wards under Cannonlake architecture.

Brighton beach however, will be succeeded by Carson Beach platform that introduces PCI 3.0 x4, the M.2 as well as BGA configuration support. At about the same time, Stony Beach is going to debut for the enterprise side of things with the very first Intel Optane powered memory tech designed to be used as 'system accelerators'.

The Stony Beach platform will be configured as PCIe Gen 3 x2 (along with support for the M.2 controller). Interestingly, the roadmap also specifies "System Acceleration Generation 1.0" which appears to be a brand new standard as far as the platform is concerned. Stony beach will be succeeded by Carson Beach with pretty much the same specifications as the Enthusiast side of the platform with the added benefit of System Acceleration Generation 2.0.

That's not it either, the roadmap also reveals Intel's plans for its usual 3D NAND platform. The Pro 600p and 600p SSDs with PCIe 3.0 x4 (M.2) support will be in cycle till the first half of 2017. At which point, production will stop for the remaining half year. Intel will debut its 2nd Generation 3D NAND based SSDs under the Cannonlake architecture (approximately in 2018) with configurations in the PCIe and SATA flavors.

Intel Optane SSDs and 3D XPoint Overview

Intel has previously talked about its 3D XPoint memory and Optane based SSDs as well as released benchmarks of the same – both of which aim to be part of its framework in the future. The 3D XPoint memory technology has 1000x the endurance of NAND flash and is 10 times denser and in some cases upto 1000x faster as well. The 3D XPoint memory will be available in market during next year and will revolutionize the tech industry with the latest 3D XPoint based Optane SSDs and DIMMs.

  • The Optane SSD was able to achieve 7.2x times more IOPS at low queue depth and upto 5.21 times the IOPs of conventional SSDs at high queue depths. Optane SSDs also provide 8.11x times lower latency than conventional NAND solutions.

  • An Optane Technology based SSD has 10x times the density of conventional SSD drives.

  • The marketing material also claims it is 1000x faster than the competition available on the market but it isn’t clear to what exactly they are referring to.

  • Optane SSDs will have 1000x the endurance – which, if true, should mean the device has virtually unlimited life span for practical purposes.

All Optane based devices will feature a cross point array structure, which consists of perpendicular connectors connecting around 128 Billion memory cells (16 Gigabytes per chip).  This “3D” method is the reason why Optane based devices have 10x times the density of conventional solutions. Like DRAM, Optane memory is stackable in nature. One of the biggest changes in this technology however is that it eliminates the need for transistors – accessing the memory cells by varying the voltage sent to the particular sector. Basically, using the bulk of the material itself.