Solid State Drives (SSD) are to become a thing of the past for high end gaming rigs as Intel and Micron put their 3D Xpoint memory into production.
At 1,000 times the speed of Nand flash storage used in SSD’s now, 3D Xpoint should be available on the market in 2016. While prices have not yet been set, it is expected to cost more than SSD but cheaper than an equivalent amount of D-RAM.
While SSD cannot write single bits of data and has to wipe then re-write larger blocks of data, 3D Xpoint doesn’t have the same limitation which accounts for some of the speed increase. Intel and Micron also tout that the tech will last hundreds of times longer than Nand before it becomes unreliable.
The faster storage will allow games development teams to get more from their worlds without waiting for loading, of course they will really only focus on that aspect as the price comes down and the storage becomes main stream affordable.
Intel doesn’t see the transition to happen quickly with people dropping HDD’s or SSD’s in exchange for 3D Xpoint memory, instead they see the transition being gradual as we see in a number of machines with SSD’s now. Using existing drives for storage and the faster 3D Xpoint memory holding the data that is required more readily like the OS and your most power hungry games.
When switching to SSD, most users find OS boot up much quicker than a standard HDD, moving to 3D Xpoint memory will offer an additional leap in the boot process, as Intel’s marketing director Greg Matson puts it “It would make for an instant-on experience”