While discussing Intel's financials, CEO Brian Krzanich revealed that the first solid state disk products based on 3D XPoint will start shipping before the end of the year. He also confirmed that Fab 68 in Dalian, China rolled out its first 3D NAND wafers ahead of schedule. Intel's memory business did poorer than expected in Q2 2016, revenue was down 20 percent year-over-year as a result of a more competitive pricing environment.
Our Memory business was down 20% over last year and fell short of our expectations as a result of a more competitive pricing environment. While we acknowledge the cyclical and competitive nature of this business, we remain confident in our long-term growth prospects as a result of the new technologies we are bringing to this market.
Fab 68 in Dalian, China, started its initial 3D NAND wafers late in the second quarter, but ahead of schedule. We also remain on track to ship 3D XPoint SSDs, branded Optane, by the end of the year, and look forward to delivering this exciting new breakthrough in memory to the industry.
The first Optane SSD samples started shipping some time ago to Intel partners:
We've actually started to ship some sample units to customers already to let them try out and start to learn. Those are to the big, call it service providers, is mostly who we're sending those to. You're going to see it enter as SSDs. You'll see those SSDs, both enterprise-class SSDs and also commercial consumer type SSDs, we demonstrated in several live demonstrations anywhere from 5x to 7x, 8x, 9x, 10x improvement in performance depending on the workload through those SSDs. So you're going to see those be the first implications.
Krzanich also added that 3D XPoint DIMMs start shipping in 2017, and that he expects this is where the big volume will come from:
When I think about where the big volume will come from, I think it will come in that DIMM form factor. You're going to see it in cloud applications, everything from machine learning, big data. Anyplace where you have memory-intensive and where you can do in-memory applications, the 3D XPoint is going to be nicely configured for that. It allows you to bring large amounts of storage-like data into a memory-like performance. And that's the real key here.
We'll see Optane in consumer devices too, but based on Krzanich's comments it's not going to replace traditional SSDs in a major capacity:
I also believe you'll see it in consumer devices. You'll see laptops and devices like that. Gaming machines, we think it will have gaming applications where you can preload in a cache-like environment the next level of your game, and so it loads almost instantly as you transition within the game. So there's going to be a variety of those. And actually the more we go and start to play with it, start to give it out to customers, the more types of applications and workloads we're finding that it can be used for.