3D XPoint

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File:3D XPoint.png
3D Cross Point 2 layer diagramatic

3D XPoint (pronounced three dee cross point[1]) is a non-volatile memory technology announced by Intel and Micron in July 2015. Intel refers to future storage devices using the technology under the name Optane.

Though details of the materials and physics of operation were not disclosed, storage density is claimed to be similar to flash memory, durability better, and operating speed much faster than flash memory. Bit storage is based on a change of bulk resistance, in conjunction with a stackable cross-gridded data access array.

Background and description

Development of 3D XPoint began around 2012.[2] Intel and Micron had developed other non-volatile phase-change memory (PCM) technologies previously;[note 1] Mark Durcan of Micron said 3D XPoint architecture differs from previous offerings of PCM, and uses chalcogenide materials for both selector and storage parts of memory cell that are faster and more stable than traditional PCM materials like GST.[4]

As of 2015 full details of the technology had not been given by Intel or Micron, though the technology had been stated to be "not based on electrons".[5] 3D XPoint has been stated to use electrical resistance and to be bit addressable.[6] Similarities to the resistive random-access memory under development by Crossbar Inc. have been noted, but 3D XPoint storage physics is different.[2] 3D XPoint developers indicate that it is based on "changes in resistance of the bulk material.[7] Intel CEO Brian Krzanich responded to ongoing questions on the XPoint material that the switching was based on "bulk material properties".[8] Intel has stated that 3D XPoint does not use a phase-change or memristor technology.[9]

Although no devices have been independently tested, announcements from Intel claim that throughput and write durability are up to 1,000 times higher than flash memory,[10][11][12][13] and latency is 10 times lower compared to NAND SSD over NVM Express,[14] though around 4-8x slower than DRAM.[15] According to a recent article, "no other supplier appears to have a working Resistive RAM/Phase-Change Memory technology that is sampling and matches XPoint's performance and endurance capabilities."[16]

Individual data cells do not need a transistor, so packing density will be 8-10 times greater than DRAM, and similar to NAND.[6][17]


Small quantities of 128 Gbit chips were made initially in 2015 at a wafer fab in Lehi, Utah, operated by IM Flash Technologies LLC, an Intel-Micron joint venture. They stack two 64 Gbit planes.[2][18] In early 2016 Guy Blalcok, CEO of IM Flash stated that the mass production of the chips is still 12 to 18 months away.[19]

The anticipated price per bit was expected to be higher than NAND and lower than DRAM, though dependant on the final product.[20] In early 2016, IM Flash announced that the first generation of solid state drives will achieve 95000 IOPS throughput with 9 microsecond latency.[19]

Intel announced the Optane brand for storage products based on the technology in mid 2015.[21]

See also


  1. Intel and Numonyx presented 64 Gb stackable PCM chips in 2009.[3]


  1. "3D XPoint™ Technology Revolutionizes Storage Memory", www.youtube.com (video, infomercial), Intel<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Clarke, Peter (28 July 2015), "Intel, Micron Launch "Bulk-Switching" ReRAM", www.eetimes.com<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. McGrath, Dylan (28 Oct 2009), "Intel, Numonyx claim phase-change memory milestone", www.eetimes.com<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Clarke, Peter (31 July 2015), "Patent Search Supports View 3D XPoint Based on Phase-Change", www.eetimes.com<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Neale, Ron (14 Aug 2015), "Imagining What's Inside 3D XPoint", www.eetimes.com<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 Hruska, Joel (29 July 2015). "Intel, Micron reveal Xpoint, a new memory architecture that could outclass DDR4 and NAND". ExtremeTech.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Clarke, Peter (28 July 2015), "Intel, Micron Launch "Bulk-Switching" ReRAM", www.eetimes.com, "The switching mechanism is via changes in resistance of the bulk material," was all Intel would add in response to questions sent via email.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Merrick, Rick, "Intel's Krzanich: CEO Q&A at IDF", www.eetimes.com, p. 2<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Mellor, Chris (28 July 2015). "Just ONE THOUSAND times BETTER than FLASH! Intel, Micron's amazing claim". The Register. An Intel spokesperson categorically denied that it was a phase-change memory process or a memristor technology. Spin-transfer torque was also dismissed<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Ngo, Dong (28 July 2015). "Intel, Micron debut 3D XPoint storage technology that's 1,000 times faster than current SSDs". CNET. CBS Interactive.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Kelion, Leo (28 July 2015). "3D Xpoint memory: Faster-than-flash storage unveiled". BBC News.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Lawson, Stephen (28 July 2015). "Intel and Micron unveil 3D XPoint -- a new class of memory". Computerworld.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Mah Ung, Gordon (28 July 2015). "Intel, Micron announce new 3D XPoint memory type that's 1,000 times faster than NAND". PCWorld.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Miller, Michael J. (21 Aug 2015). "Intel Details 3D XPoint Memory, Future Products". ~10x reduction in latency vs. NAND SSD<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Lucas Mearian (29 July 2015). "The new memory from Intel and Micron will do to SSDs what SSDs did to disk drives". www.computerworld.com. The new memory is still about five to eight times slower than DRAM. It's not as fast as DRAM, so it's not going to replace it in the most latency-valued applications<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. By Chris Mellor, The Register. “Goodbye: XPoint is Intel's best exit from NAND production hell.” April 21, 2016. April 22, 2016.
  17. "2015: 3D XPoint Technology". p. last slide, lower left chart, titled performance and density.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Smith, Ryan (18 August 2015), "Intel Announces Optane Storage Brand For 3D XPoint Products", www.anandtech.com, products will be available in 2016, in both standard SSD (PCIe) form factors for everything from Ultrabooks to servers, and in a DIMM form factor for Xeon systems for even greater bandwidth and lower latencies. As expected, Intel will be providing storage controllers optimized for the 3D XPoint memory<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. 19.0 19.1 Merrick, Rick (14 Jan 2016), "3D XPoint Steps Into the Light", EE Times<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Evangelho, Jason (28 July 2015). "Intel And Micron Jointly Unveil Disruptive, Game-Changing 3D XPoint Memory, 1000x Faster Than NAND". Intel's Rob Crooke explained, 'You could put the cost somewhere between NAND and DRAM.'<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Smith, Ryan (18 Aug 2015), "Intel Announces Optane Storage Brand For 3D XPoint Products", AnandTech<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links