Friday, April 16, 2021

What is the Future of Persistent Memory???


Next week, the Persistent Memory/Computational Storage Summit will be held. There will be some great topics and I will be on a panel on Wednesday 4/21 at 11:45 to Discuss the future of Persistent Memory. 

Micron recently announced that they will not pursue 3D Xpoint Memory and will instead focus on CXL. Since I had a projections for greatly INCREASED 3D XPoint Revenue BASED on CXL…. That was an interesting statement. We showed markets growing from $1B to $4B+ per year on 3D Xpoint.

Some Thoughts (we will discuss at Summit or offline)

1)     3D XPoint, in the form of Intel’s Optane, is BY FAR the leading persistent memory and emerging memory. Nothing is close.

a.      MRAM and ReRAM are used in SOCs but the densities are small (<1Gbit) and this is not really what most of us talk about when we discuss persistent memory (its like NOR)

b.      MRAM from Everspin is also selling in 1Gbit chips stand alone, but again this is much smaller than persistent memory for databases and servers.

c.      NVDIMMS (NAND+DRAM) also sell in low volumes with densities around 16-32GByte.

d.      3D XPoint has large density (128-256Gbits per chip) AND reasonable latency AND Non-volatility

Given this, Micron NOT pursuing 3D Xpoint seems to be a huge statement. Why?


2)     CXL is widely accepted as the next gen memory bus. While this could change, it is very important to have a widely accepted bus to keep focus and leverage from large companies.

3)     We assumed that persistent memory would be an emerging memory that is fast and non-volatile and lower cost than DRAM and is accessed with memory commands.


a.      What if we didn’t need ALL of those attributes but some trade offs instead?

b.      What if we had a large memory pool available on a CXL bus that was DRAM and NAND but could be shared and used only when needed. We get large memory availability at lower cost

c.      If the CXL bus allows sharing and re-optimization of memory, does that make up for any other tradeoff?

d.      The CXL bus is flexible and open so people could choose the memory and processor rather than being locked into an Intel architecture. Persistent memory and large scale memory doesnt need to be deeply tied to the memory controller


At this time, Intel still plans to use Optane/3D Xpoint on the CXL bus and offer solutions based on this. Intel is essentially going it alone on 3D Xpoint/Optane echnology. Intel will make Optane at Micron through the end of the year and use its New Mexico Fab as additional capacity with option to increase that capacity over time (we track the site and Intel capacity in our reports)

For more on what the future of persistent memory and Optane is, attend the Summit and contact us\

Mark Webb

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