Optane Memory

Chip giant Intel has announced that it has initiated the shutting down of its Optane Memory business, as well as further development of associated 3D XPoint technology.

The confirmation comes under the heading “Non-GAAP adjustment or measure” in Intel’s non-GAAP adjustment table that was released for their Q2 2022 earnings. It reads, “In Q2 2022, we initiated the winding down of our Intel Optane memory business.”

The news was also later confirmed by Intel CEO Pate Gelsinger on an earnings call, according to Tom’s Hardware. Intel said it will be writing off $559 million as “Optane Memory Impairment” charge this quarter due to the closure of the business.

“We continue to rationalize our portfolio in support of our IDM 2.0 strategy. This includes evaluating divesting businesses that are either not sufficiently profitable or not core to our strategic objectives. After careful consideration, Intel plans to cease future product development within its Optane business. We are committed to supporting Optane customers through the transition,” Intel’s spokesperson told Tom’s Hardware.

It is important to note that Intel has Optane products, including “Optane memory” “Optane persistent memory” and “Optane SSDs”. However, the chip maker has consolidated the complete Optane business unit under “Optane memory business.” This would mean that Intel is indeed winding down the entire Optane business unit, and not just the Optane Memory product.

For those unversed, Optane Memory was Intel’s attempt to provide users with the fast data access of solid-state drives (SSDs) combined with the high capacity of hard disk drives (HDDs).

Announced in 2015, both Intel and Micron claimed that Optane could deliver up to 1,000 times the speed and endurance of NAND flash and 10x the density of dynamic random-access memory (DRAM), thanks to the underlying 3D XPoint architecture. However, Intel sold its NAND flash business and manufacturing plans to SK Hynix in 2020 to concentrate on the Optane business.

Intel originally retained its memory business for the data center, including its persistent memory DIMMs that can function as an adjunct to main memory. This capability was only offered by Intel, which will now come to an end, too.

Gelsinger explained that one of the reasons to shut down Optane business is an industry shift to CXL (Compute Express Link) based architectures, which echoes Intel’s ex-partner Micron’s sentiments when it exited the business last year.

Apparently, Micron was the sole high-volume fabricator of 3D XPoint, the memory Intel uses to make Optane until it decided to end its work with Intel in 2018. This left the chip maker with no production facilities of its own.

“We further sharpened our focus in Q2 selling our drone business and making the difficult decision to wind down our efforts in Optane as we embrace CXL, a standard which Intel Corporation pioneered,” Gelsinger said. “We have now exited six businesses since my return.”