Intel’s 3D Xpoint architecture could find its way into Mac notebooks fairly quickly, be significantly faster than NAND Flash storage
Date: Monday, March 14th, 2016, 08:37
Category: Hardware, Intel, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News
This could lead to something really nifty for your Mac notebook.
Last summer, Intel announced 3D Xpoint, a new class of memory labeled as a “major breakthrough in memory process technology.” 3D Xpoint is 1,000 times faster and more durable than NAND Flash storage, as well as 10 times denser than the DRAM chips used in computers.
The transistor-free cross point architecture essentially creates a three-dimensional checkerboard withers memory cells sit at the intersection of word lines and bit lines, allowing the cells to be addressed individually. As a result, data can be written and read in small sizes, leading to faster and more efficient read/write processes.
Intel had stated that the first 3D Xpoint product would be solid in early 2016 and marketed under the product name of its “Octane solid state drives”. Interestingly enough, 3D Xpoint is compatible with NVM Express (NVMe), an SSD protocol that offers improved latency and performance over the older AHCI protocol.
Apple’s Retina MacBooks already use the NVMe protocol and it’s thought that the Skylake Macs set to be released across 2016 will also support NVMe. With NVMe compatibility built into 3D Xpoint, Apple could adopt Intel’s Optane solid state drives for super fast performance speeds that significantly outpace what’s possible with current SSDs.
3D Xpoint is thought to see rapid adoption and will likely exist alongside NAND Flash options until a price point is reached where 3D Xpoint can be mass-produced. Intel is also working on Optane memory DIMMs.
Apple will most likely continue to use NAND Flash in its Macs, but could adopt the Octane protocol down the line.
Skylake chips appropriate for many of Apple’s Macs are currently available or will be available in the near future, so we may begin seeing the the first Mac upgrades in the next few months, perhaps at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.