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In the Zone

Intel Optane is winding down. What’s that mean for you & your customers?

Peter Krass's picture

by Peter Krass on 11/09/2022
Blog Category: cloud-and-data-centers

This past July, during Intel’s Q2 earnings call, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger said the company had made the “difficult decision” to wind down its efforts in Optane and embrace CXL, an open-standard interface.
 
During the same call, David Zinsner, the company’s CFO, added that Intel’s exit from the Intel Optane business presented “a good example” of how Intel is focusing resources on the highest-value programs.
 
That was good for Intel and its investors. But what are the implications for resellers and users of Intel Optane Persistent Memory and Intel Optane SSD storage? 
 
Optane’s future
 
First, Intel will continue to sell Intel Optane products for the foreseeable future. These persistent memory products provide real business value versus the cost of DRAM. The great total cost of ownership (TCO) proposition lets you offer significant value to your customers, especially during these financially challenging times.  
 
Also, Intel still plans to introduce a third generation of Intel Optane Persistent Memory (Intel Optane PMem), either later this year or early in 2023. These Intel Optane products will be supported by new Intel Xeon Scalable processors, code-named Sapphire Rapids, and early tester feedback indicates great performance gains. 
 
Intel has also pledged to honor its 5-year warranties for Intel Optane products. In other words, your customers can enjoy the benefits of these products, including a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) with full product support, for many years. 
 
Finally, users of Intel Optane PMem now have what the company is calling a “migration path.” Specifically, that’s a transition to third-party-developed Compute Express Link (CXL) attached memory modules. CXL is an open standard interface that’s media-independent and designed to run on the latest PCIe 5 bus design. 
 
There’s also now a CXL Consortium to support the technology. This open industry-standard group counts among its corporate members Alibaba, ARM, Cisco, Dell, Google, HPE, IBM, Intel, Meta and Samsung. Intel is a founding member and sits on the board of directors. 
 
Industry support
 
Intel is far from alone in shifting to CXL. VMware, also a contributor to the CXL Consortium, said in late August that it plans to shift its Project Capitola, a big-memory initiative, to CXL-based memory technologies. With Project Capitola, VMware aims to aggregate multiple memory tiers in software to deliver a uniform consumption model that is transparent to applications. 
 
MemVerge, another CXL Consortium contributor, is also an early proponent of CXL. In a recent blog post, MemVerge CEO Charles Fan wrote that Intel’s decision to wind down the Intel Optane product line “brings clarity that CXL is the fundamental building block for Big Memory.” 
 
CEO Fan also wrote that all MemVerge software will fully support all new CXL memory products coming to the market. What’s more, he wrote, MemVerge customers in the future will be able to “painlessly” migrate their applications from an Intel Optane infrastructure to a CXL-memory infrastructure.
 
Further, MemVerge sponsored a full-day CXL Forum at the recent 2022 Flash Memory Summit in Santa Clara, Calif. The forum featured speakers from companies including Google, Intel, Micron, Nvidia and Samsung.
 
The upshot? 
 
Looking ahead, your current and future Intel Optane-using customers can rest easy. 
 
Their Intel Optane devices will continue to provide value and performance. These devices will be supported by Intel for some time. And your customers will have a migration path to move to CXL later. 
 
The Intel Optane business may be winding down. But you and your customers can keep rolling. 
 
Learn more: 
 
> Watch a video: Memory Tiering with Intel Optane Persistent Memory 
 
> Get Optane training with Intel Partner University Competencies:
> Intel Optane Technology – Data Center Business
> Intel Optane Technology – Data Center Technical 
 
> Check out the CXL Consortium
 
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