Intel's blazingly fast Optane SSDs are heading for gaming PCs soon

Will make current solid-state drives almost look sluggish

Intel's Optane products will be available as soon as next year for enthusiast PC owners – meaning those with high-end rigs such as gamers who are prepared to fork out for blazing fast SSDs.

This is according to Kirk Skaugen, senior VP and general manager of the Client Computing Group, who made the announcement at Intel's investor conference yesterday, as PC World reports.

If you not heard of Optane before, it's essentially a supposedly revolutionary new memory category which promises super speedy SSDs and system memory. It was first unveiled earlier this year as 3D Xpoint (Optane is the snappier brand name for Intel's version of the tech).

3D Xpoint (pronounced '3D crosspoint') took Intel over a decade of research to hone, and boasts a transistor-less crosspoint architecture which is something like a three-dimensional chessboard, allowing for data to be read and written in small sizes far more quickly and efficiently.

According to Intel, it represents the biggest memory breakthrough since NAND flash was introduced, and it's a big, big deal with the company claiming it's no less than 1000 times faster than NAND (with 1000 times greater endurance, too).

SSDs and DIMMs

The first Optane products will be SSDs and memory DIMMs (the latter being aimed at servers for data centre usage and the like).

Naturally, the first SSDs to emerge next year will be expensive for early adopters, but eventually they will start to come down in price for a more mainstream positioning (just as with solid-state drives when they first came out – now look how cheap they are).

Of course, Optane won't simply be about enthusiast PCs and gaming rigs, but it will have a wide impact across many spheres of technology, including more efficiently crunching big data, machine learning and other heavyweight applications.

Micron, which jointly developed 3D Xpoint with Intel, will also be bringing its own products to market in the future.