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Intel's new Optane memory technology could lead to 1000 times faster MacBook storage

A new ultra-fast memory technology from Intel and Micron branded as Optane is expected to launch in 2017, and could pave the way for even faster storage on Apple's MacBooks.




Optane is compatible with the NVMe storage protocol that Apple already uses in some of its MacBooks, as noted by Macworld. That means it could be relatively easy for Apple to transition and take advantage of the new technology.

Using 3D Xpoint technology, Optane is said to offer speeds 1,000 times faster and more durable than common flash storage. That's because it's 10 times denser than DRAM.

Apple launched Non-Volatile Memory Express support in its new 12-inch MacBook, and enabled it with a software update to OS X last April.




NVMe is meant to replace aging AHCI technology, which was designed to maximize performance in systems using spinning hard drives. NVMe is optimized for lower latency operations afforded by solid state media, or non-volatile memory.

Compared to AHCI, NVMe reduces latency by 50 percent. For example, Intel puts latency overhead in SCSI/SAS systems at 6 nanoseconds at 19,500 cycles, but quotes NVMe at 2.8 nanoseconds at 9,100 cycles (PDF link).

Further, NVMe is designed to scale over the next decade, a lifecycle comparable to AHCI, which was introduced in 2004. And since Apple has been using the PCIe transport protocol since 2011, the company is in a good position to expeditiously roll out support across the entire Mac lineup.