First unveiled in 2015 and due to launch a year later - a target the company would miss - Intel's Optane represents the company's first attempt at creating a hybrid dynamic and non-volatile memory type. As with other hybrid memory formats, the idea is that the performance of non-volatile flash memory will increase to the point that volatile dynamic memory, which loses its contents unless constantly refreshed, will no longer be necessary.
The modules that have been known under the Apache Pass codename will be branded as Optane DC Persistent Memory, to contrast with Optane DC SSD.
The Optane DC Persistent Memory modules will be initially available in three capacities: 128GB, 256GB and 512GB per module. This implies that they are probably still based on the same 128Gb 3D XPoint memory dies used in all other Optane products. The modules are pin-compatible with standard DDR4 DIMMs and will be supported by the next generation of Intel's Xeon server platforms.
Designed, as with the first Optane products, for use in the data centre, Intel's Optane DC Persistent Memory puts Optane flash storage technology onto a DRAM-style dual inline memory module (DIMM). The result is that you have high-speed non-volatile storage which appears to the system as native RAM, yet offers capacities of up to 512GB per module - meaning a total of 3TB per CPU socket, or up to 12TB per quad-socket server.
The Optane DC Persistent Memory modules are sampling and will be shipping for revenue later this year, but only to select customers. The great unwashed will be able to buy them in 2019. In a similar strategy to how Intel brought Optane SSDs to market, Intel will be offering remote access to systems equipped with Optane DC Persistent Memory so that developers can prepare their software to make full use of the new memory. The preview systems will feature 192GB of DRAM and 1TB of Optane Persistent Memory, plus SATA and NVMe SSDs. The preview program will run from June through August. Participants will be required to keep their findings secret until Intel says so.
Intel is not saying if mix and match DRAM and Optane Persistent Memory on the same memory controller channel will be possible, but the 192GB DRAM capacity for the development preview systems indicates that they are equipped with a 16GB DRAM DIMM on every memory channel.
Chipzilla has not spilt the beans about power consumption, clock speeds, specific endurance ratings, and whether Optane DC Persistent Memory will be supported across the Xeon product line.