Enlarge / Intel Optane Memory.

Engineering sample, but we hope it’s the same as retail hardware.
3D XPoint (pronounced “crosspoint”, not “ex-point”) is a promising form of non-volatile memory jointly developed by Intel and Micron.
Intel claims that the memory, which it’s branding Optane for commercial products, provides a compelling mix of properties putting it somewhere between DRAM and NAND flash.
The first Optane products are almost here.

For certain enterprise workloads, there’s the Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X, a 375GB PCIe card that offers substantially lower latency than comparable flash drives, and which can boast high numbers of I/O operations per second (IOPS) over a much wider range of workloads than flash.
Intel isn’t letting reviewers actually use the P4800X, however; the first testing of the hardware, published earlier this week was performed remotely, with the hardware remaining on Intel’s premises.
For the consumer, there’s Intel Optane Memory.
It’s an M.2 PCIe stick with a capacity of 16GB ($44) or 32GB ($77), and it should be on sale today. Unlike the P4800X, Intel is letting reviewers get hold of Optane Memory, or at least, something close to it: the part we received was branded “engineering sample,” with no retail branding or packaging.

The astute reader will note that 16 or 32GB isn’t a whole lot of storage.

Although the sticks can be used as conventional, if tiny, NVMe SSDs, Intel is positioning them as caches for spinning disks. Pair Optane Memory with large cheap hard disk, and the promise is that you’ll get SSD-like performance—some of the time, at least—with HDD-like capacity.
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