Intel unleashes first Optane SSD and it’s a speed demon

Intel has revealed its first Optane SSD which uses the much-talked-about 3D XPoint technology that took the company a decade to hone.

The Optane DC P4800X is a 375GB solid-state drive in the form of a PCIe card, and it’s aimed at heavyweight data centre usage, promising very low latency and high throughput.

According to Intel, the SSD boasts a latency of under 10µs and offers random read/write speeds of up to 550,000/500,000 IOPs.

What’s also very interesting is that the P4800X can use Intel’s ‘memory drive technology’ to make the SSD appear to be DRAM to the operating system, a useful added trick on the flexibility front.

Unrivalled performance

Intel notes that Optane SSDs offer “unrivalled performance at low queue depth, where the vast majority of applications generate storage workloads, which means CPUs are more active and more fully utilised”.

The company also boasted of high endurance ratings, with the P4800X being capable of 30 DWPD (drive writes per day), with a claimed total lifespan of 12.3 petabytes.

The drive is available in an ‘early ship program’ now, with more form factors and bigger capacities due to become available in the second half of this year. As spotted by ExtremeTech, it retails at $1,520 (around £1,230, AU$1,970), so it’s far from cheap (and those larger capacity drives will be much more expensive still, of course).

As we already mentioned, this is an SSD targeted at data centre use, but it’s a sign of things to come – eventually we’ll see high-performance Optane drives aimed at consumer PCs with less frightening price tags.

Optane is, however, already being used for cache drives in mainstream laptops like the ThinkPad T series (which has an optional 16GB Optane SSD).

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).