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Fans of enthusiast solid state drives might have something to get excited about towards the end of this year. According to a leaked roadmap showing Intel's upcoming SSDs, the company's Optane line is set to launch alongside new Kaby Lake processors in either Q4 2016 or early 2017.
Optane is particularly exciting because it's the first line of SSDs to use Intel's highly anticipated XPoint technology. This new storage technology should bring performance closer to RAM than traditional NAND, while mainining the benefits of NAND such as its non-volatile nature.
In previous demonstrations of XPoint-based SSDs, Intel has produced performance upwards of five times faster than existing SSDs. Optane drives should deliver very strong random performance in particular due to a new and more efficient memory structure.
The leaked roadmap lists three Optane products. 'Stony Beach' sits at the bottom of the chart as a system acceleration product, meaning we could see Optane chips act as high-performance cache for other forms of storage. Then there's 'Brighton Beach' and 'Mansion Beach', enthusiast solid state NVMe drives that operate using PCIe 3.0 x2 and x4 buses respectively.
Judging by the roadmap, Optane is definitely set to be a performance product, succeeding the likes of the Intel SSD 750 Series that's known for its high performance and price tag. Mainstream markets will still be serviced by other storage technologies for the time being, including 2nd-generation 3D NAND products slated for release in the future.