Intel will provide early access to fast Optane SSDs via the cloud

Developers can soon test out Optane SSDs, which could be used as a DRAM replacement

Intel isn't yet shipping its Optane SSDs, but they soon will be available for testing over the cloud.

This is good news for enterprise users, who are eagerly awaiting the new class of storage and memory shown to break SSD speed records.

Optane is based on 3D Xpoint technology, which is 10 times faster than the technology in standard SSDs. It also can serve as a substitute to traditional DRAM, but software needs to be written so parts of Optane operate like memory tiers.

Optane SSDs will be available at the end of the year to enterprises and gamers. Unfortunately for gamers, the cloud-based Optane test bed will be accessible for free only to enterprise users looking to test applications tied to financial transactions, machine learning, autonomous driving, and other uses, Intel said.

Optane offers many advantages, but applications will need to be written for the storage and memory structures. The blazing speed of Optane SSDs will allow them to cache data and provide in-memory data processing features. The caching feature will be important in gaming, where game levels can be pre-loaded on SSDs ahead of time, allowing for quicker load times.

Intel plans to show how memory tiers can be designed in Optane SSDs with the help of software from ScaleMP, which provides virtualization tools for in-memory computing. ScaleMP typically provides tools for high-end computing.

The test bed will help enterprises prepare applications that could be used once Optane SSDs start shipping.

More details on access to Optane through the cloud will be provided at Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco this week.

Optane is generating excitement from prospective users. Intel will ship Optane SSDs for laptops and 2-in-1s, as well as memory DIMMs based on 3D Xpoint, starting next year. The storage will be compatible with NVMe slots, which are used for SSDs today and work with systems running on CPUs not designed by Intel.

Intel and Micron jointly developed 3D Xpoint technology. SSDs based on 3D Xpoint technology from Micron will be available next year to enterprise customers through storage companies.

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