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Intel will no longer manufacture or develop Optane drives. CEO Pat Gelsinger confirmed that Intel is ending its Optane business unit.

Optane memory is slower than RAM, but cost-effective for some applications. Intel sold its first Optane drives in 2015. The business unit disappointed over the years. CEO Pat Gelsinger confirmed that Intel will discontinue Optane during the most recent quarterly presentation.

Why?

Intel’s Optane drives run on 3D XPoint chips. 3D XPoint is a storage architecture presented by Intel and chip manufacturer Micron in 2015. Chip manufacturer Micron produced Intel’s 3D XPoint chips until 2018. In that year, Micron ended the cooperation. The factory in question was sold and Intel lost an important partner.

Intel said it was open to partnerships with new suppliers, but Micron was never truly replaced. According to website Blocks and Files, Micron left Intel with a huge stock of 3D XPoint chips. Website The Register states that Intel never managed to sell the chips.

Impact

The leftover stock is worth $559 million. That amount goes into the bin. Intel wrote the value off as a loss. It will no longer produce new drives. “Intel plans to cease future product development within its Optane business. We are committed to supporting Optane customers through the transition”, an Intel spokesperson told website Tom’s Hardware.

Optane memory

Intel’s decision doesn’t mean that Optane is worthless. Though faster, RAM is more expensive. Optane can be cheaper for large, memory-intensive workloads.

However, we don’t expect the technology to remain relevant in the long term. Micron produces ever-faster SSDs. In addition, future developments of compute express link (CXL) technology can increase the effectiveness of RAM.