The biggest advancement in data storage technology to date has undoubtedly been the shift from disc-based hard drives to solid-state. SSDs are faster, with no moving parts, and generate less heat while also typically being considerably smaller than their platter-based counterparts. SSDs are already a step up in almost every way, but Intel decided it just wasn’t happy with the way solid state technology was headed, and somehow managed to one-up the rest of the industry with an SSD that is faster than pretty much anything else on the market, and now they’re shipping.
The Intel Optane P4800X is the first product from the company to utilize the new 3D XPoint memory technology. It utilizes a PCIe slot, and has a capacity of 375GB, but other sizes ranging from 750GB to 1.5TB have already been confirmed by Intel as being in the pipeline for 2017 releases.
It’s significantly faster than NAND-based flash storage with a small fraction of the latency, and while it’s slower than DRAM, it’s also ten times more dense. The new drive technology is also a whole lot more durable and, unlike flash data storage, 3D XPoint won’t physically degrade the storage media, allowing it to be written upon many more times than NAND-based drives without as much concern for overall drive health.
So, Intel’s Optane drives are awesome and way faster, longer-lasting, and better than SSDs… but you knew there had to be a catch. All this cutting edge technology doesn’t come cheap, and if you were considering picking up a P4800X for your own rig you should know that it’s primarily designed for data center use and, due to its price, it’s pretty much only an option for enterprise applications, at least for now. The debut drive will set you back a cool $1,520, and for just 375GB of storage, that’s not exactly budge-friendly. Still, the technology is extremely promising and will surely find its way to home computers before too long.