Currently Techradar rates Intel Optane SSD as the fastest available SSD of 2020. Due to falling costs and incredible proprietary improvements in the way data is stored, one would find it hard to argue that Intel’s Optane SSD isn’t a revolution in storage technologies that not only offers unique storage density where flash drives are concerned but also speed at a breakneck pace.
Many techies, geeks, and all around PC nerds have watched for years as Samsung climbed to the heights of speed and performance development and for all intents and purposes. In fact, Samsung has been so great at making SSD’s that they’re widely regarded as a preferred choice for SSD technology by many power users and I personally have been a huge fan over the years to the point that I wouldn’t use anything else for my main PC except Samsung. That’s likely to change for me very soon however if the prices become more affordable around Intel Optane components.
So why is Intel Optane so special that it could dethrone Samsung in a sense as the maker of the fastest SSDs in our day and age? To understand that, you first have to crack open their proprietary technology that makes all the magic happen. Behold, 3D Xpoint.
Cross-point array structure
At the heart of 3D Xpoint is a stacking of memory cells, portrayed in the image above. The compacting of memory cells which store single-bit data allows for a high level of density and the shortest distance between memory cells for reading & writing data. Their inital technology can store 128gb per die across two memory layers and it is believed that future improvements on this technology will increase the number of those layers to create larger storage capacity. Further improving upon this technology is a transistor-less feature called a selector. While this is a relatively new term for me, my understanding is that ready and write commands from the rest of the computer to flash memory are based on changes in voltage which is done through transistors conventionally and still a dominating feature in CPU’s and graphics cores. The selector, working in tandem with sheets of layered memory cells allows faster read and write sequences to occur across the X point array.