back to article Intel overhyping flash-killer XPoint? Shocked, we're totally shocked

XPoint will substantially undershoot the 1,000-times-faster and 1,000-times-longer-lived-than-flash claims made by Intel when it was first announced – with just a 10-times speed boost and 2.5-times longer endurance in reality. This became clear when Micron presented details of its QuantX-branded XPoint memory technology at the …

  1. a_yank_lurker


    For many consumer and business applications the raw speed of flash is not the limiting factor so increasing the hardware speed will not gain anything. This is a common fallacy when looking at quoted speeds of ignoring what is the actual limiting factor which may be something as mundane as the user's typing speed.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      The fact that a given memory technology is ten times faster than another is certainly not limited by the user's typing speed. It will just store each keypress ten times faster. Of course, the user will not notice any difference whatsoever.

      Where the user will see a difference is when the user transfers a large block of data (or a large quantity of small blocks) to that memory. That is where the speed will be significant and where the notion of limiting factors will come into account, such as CPU power, number of threads allotted to the task and available bandwidth between the memory modules and the source/destination of the data.

      If you're just waiting on user keyboard operations, a good ol' PC XT could do the job nicely.

    2. Steve Todd

      Re: Specs

      You're confusing servers with workstations. Workstations spend most of their lives waiting for users to tell them what to do. Servers can get thousands of requests per second, in which case the time it takes to transfer the requested data from disk to memory is important.

      In case you hadn't figured, this is a server class product (read expensive).

  2. SeanC4S

    That's terrible news. I guess Micron is on the way out along with AMD and HP.

    1. Bronek Kozicki

      Not really. First, I think QuantX is shared business with Intel (i.e. not in competition), secondly we are talking about generation 1 of the device. As long as HP and others delay delivery of alternative memory technologies, XPoint has a fighting chance. Still, at this moment it is far from impressive.

  3. Bronek Kozicki

    NVME latency ?

    Specs on DC P3700, table 7 on page 11, state sequential read/write latency 20us and random read/write latency 115us/25us (yes, writes are faster - ideal for ZFS SLOG device). This is far from 200us used for comparison in the article. Yes, DC P3700 is expensive, but I suspect that comparable capacity QuantX would be more expensive anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NVME latency ?

      Also if I read the article right, that latency for a PCIe interface to the memory. PCIe latency penalties are a minimum of 200ns per packet - and packet size is typically quite small, typically no more than 1KB. This and other communication overheads mean that the quoted 20ns is not too shabby - for a PCIe interface.

      Also worth bearing in mind is that being a 1st gen device the controller is probably implemented in an FPGA, so potentially a clock speed of 200-400 MHz - with a heavily pipelined architecture.

  4. ntevanza

    Quite good

    So what we are saying is that 3D X-Point, instead of being a pants-shaking revelation, might instead just be Quite Good.

    Quite Good is nothing to sneeze at, when most things are, ipso facto, Fairly Average. If you can do nothing but reliably distinguish those two categories, you are of more use than all the marketing people and telephone sanitizers on the planet, collectively.

    Rather than expound further, I would refer you to the Blackadder episode that exists to explain this phenomenon with uncommon precision. But I don't know which one it is.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Quite good

      "Quite Good is nothing to sneeze at, when most things are, ipso facto, Fairly Average. "

      The question is "Will you pay ten times more for it?" and the answer in 90% of cases is "NO"

      1. Roo

        Re: Quite good

        ""Quite Good is nothing to sneeze at, when most things are, ipso facto, Fairly Average. "

        The question is "Will you pay ten times more for it?" and the answer in 90% of cases is "NO""

        Agreeing violently !

        They've done pretty well already with Gen.1, and they are at the start of XPoint's development curve so there is likely a lot of room for improvement on price and performance, I think there is reason to be optimistic - particularly if other big vendors license it. On the other hand Flash has had a couple of decades of competitive development invested in it, there is much less margin for improvement with Flash and much thinner margins.

  5. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    If it doesn't deserve an exclamation point, I don't know what does

    Although it's not matching up to the initial claim of being akin to slow, non volatile memory, this is exceptional.

    GPUs? The GTX1080 averages 20-30% faster than a 980Ti, and this is seem as exceptional.

    CPUs? Using Intel's own (optimistic) numbers, a Skylake 6700K is '30% faster than a three year old PC' (i7 3770K)

    20-30% is seem as decent, and the article complains about a technology averaging 5x to 10x improvement, depending on area?

  6. Joerg

    Since when a 10x meaning 1000% performance increase would be a bad thing, uh?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      When you were promised 100000%, and think that a 5x price premium isn't worth it for most market segments - a further 10x reduction in the already massive 10000x latency reduction SSDs have delivered over hard drives won't make much difference for the large majority of applications. In many cases that extra money would be better spent on more RAM, faster CPUs, better networking, etc.

      In fact, in many cases even NVMe is overall, and SATA SSDs are more than good enough.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        One shouldn't think of it as a SSD replacment but as another tier in the memory hierarchy. A real winner for massive databases. Maybe someone will re-invent the AS/400?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I don't think there's a big enough difference in performance between XPoint and SSDs to justify complicating the memory hierarchy by adding another tier.

  7. AlanEagle



    Let's start with a very simple and basic block diagram:

    CPU -----> chipset -----> storage subsystem (i.e.3D XPoint).

    Try to visualize the CPU as a radio frequency transmitter:

    4 cores x 64-bits per register @ 4 GHz is a lot of binary data

    On the right is 3D XPoint.

    As their measurements show,

    Micron achieved "900" w/ PCIe 3.0 x4 lanes; and,

    Micron achieved "1800" w/ PCIe 3.0 x8 lanes.

    Read: almost perfect scaling.

    And, the flat lines speak volumes:

    in both cases, the storage subsystem

    saturated the PCIe 3.0 bus.

    Now, extrapolate to PCIe 3.0 x16 lanes:

    wanna bet "3600"? My money says, "YES!"

    Now, extrapolate to PCIe 4.0 x16 lanes:

    my money says ~ "7200" -- flat line

    (maybe not perfect scaling,

    but you get the idea :)

    Conclusion: 3D XPoint is FAAAST, and

    Micron's measurements show that

    the chipset is now the bottleneck --

    all cynicism aside.

  9. Alan Brown Silver badge

    "in both cases, the storage subsystem

    saturated the PCIe 3.0 bus."

    Which means that PCIe is not a good fit for Xpoint (SSD can easily max out the bus too)

    Let's see if they'll license diablo tech and put 'em in DIMMs

  10. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    I think el Reg has just

    broken Betteridge's law of headlines.

    Still, at least it ain't Larrabee.

  11. P0l0nium

    Its just Marketing... everybody does it... get over it!!!

    In other news ... Large corporation produces marketing material that highlights the absolute best attributes if its new product..

    It can address a single bit 1000X faster than NAND Flash .... get over it and stop bitching.

    Anandtech don't seem to have a problem with "1000X faster".

    You've been churning out this same crap for months and we're all tired of it.The only question is "What motivates Chris Mellor"??

  12. Tom 64

    I'll take mine on a DIMM please

    Besides the instant-on rig that I want, there are many applications which will get a boost from this technology, and people prepared to pay the premium for it. intel are probably on to a winner with the big data, HPC, finance and cloud folk.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    got to beat the DRAM price curve also

    To carve a new niche in the cache hierarchy you need a compelling case. Since those first exciting numbers were released DRAM prices have dropped significantly, and densities have grown.

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