Introduction, How PCM Works, Reading, Writing, and Tweaks

I’ve seen a bit of flawed logic floating around related to discussions about 3D XPoint technology. Some are directly comparing the cost per die to NAND flash (you can’t - 3D XPoint likely has fewer fab steps than NAND - especially when compared with 3D NAND). Others are repeating a bunch of terminology and element names without taking the time to actually explain how it works, and far too many folks out there can't even pronounce it correctly (it's spoken 'cross-point'). My plan is to address as much of the confusion as I can with this article, and I hope you walk away understanding how XPoint and its underlying technologies (most likely) work. While we do not have absolute confirmation of the precise material compositions, there is a significant amount of evidence pointing to one particular set of technologies. With Optane Memory now out in the wild and purchasable by folks wielding electron microscopes and mass spectrometers, I have seen enough additional information come across to assume XPoint is, in fact, PCM based.

XPoint.png

XPoint memory. Note the shape of the cell/selector structure. This will be significant later.

While we were initially told at the XPoint announcement event Q&A that the technology was not phase change based, there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and it is likely that Intel did not want to let the cat out of the bag too early. The funny thing about that is that both Intel and Micron were briefing on PCM-based memory developments five years earlier, and nearly everything about those briefings lines up perfectly with what appears to have ended up in the XPoint that we have today.

comparison.png

Some die-level performance characteristics of various memory types. source

The above figures were sourced from a 2011 paper and may be a bit dated, but they do a good job putting some actual numbers with the die-level performance of the various solid state memory technologies. We can also see where the ~1000x speed and ~1000x endurance comparisons with XPoint to NAND Flash came from. Now, of course, those performance characteristics do not directly translate to the performance of a complete SSD package containing those dies. Controller overhead and management must take their respective cuts, as is shown with the performance of the first generation XPoint SSD we saw come out of Intel:

gap.png

The ‘bridging the gap’ Latency Percentile graph from our Intel SSD DC P4800X review.
(The P4800X comes in at 10us above).

There have been a few very vocal folks out there chanting 'not good enough', without the basic understanding that the first publicly available iteration of a new technology never represents its ultimate performance capabilities. It took NAND flash decades to make it into usable SSDs, and another decade before climbing to the performance levels we enjoy today. Time will tell if this holds true for XPoint, but given Micron's demos and our own observed performance of Intel's P4800X and Optane Memory SSDs, I'd argue that it is most certainly off to a good start!

XPoint Die.jpg

A 3D XPoint die, submitted for your viewing pleasure (click for larger version).

You want to know how this stuff works, right? Read on to find out!

Podcast #450 - AMD Ryzen, AMD EPYC, AMD Threadripper, AMD Vega, and more non AMD news!

Subject: Editorial | May 18, 2017 - 11:46 AM |
Tagged: youtube tv, western digital, video, Vega, Threadripper, spir-v, ryzen, podcast, opencl, Google VR, EPYC, Core i9, battletech, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #450 - 05/18/17

Join us for AMD Announcments, Core i9 leaks, OpenCL updates, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:20:36

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Ryan: Gigabit LTE please hurry
    2. Allyn: TriboTEX (nanotech engine oil additive)
  4. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

 

 

Source:

Podcast #449 - NVIDIA Announcements, Dell predictions, watercooling components

Subject: Editorial | May 11, 2017 - 12:15 PM |
Tagged: video, zalman, Z270-A, snapdragon, ryzen, qualcomm, NVIDIA Tesla, fractal design, corsair, asus, aptX, Alphacool, podcast

PC Perspective Podcast #449 - 05/11/17

Join us for NVIDIA Announcements, Dell Predictions, Reviews on watercooling components and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Morry Teitelman, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg, Ken Addison

Program length: 1:26:08
 
Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Allyn: Statuscore CPU load / test (also works on Ryzen)
  1. Closing/outro

Source:

NVIDIA Announces Q1 2018 Results

Subject: Editorial | May 10, 2017 - 09:45 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, earnings, revenues, Q1 2018, Q1, v100, data center, automotive, gpu, gtx 1080 ti

NVIDIA had a monster Q1. The quarter before the company had their highest revenue numbers in the history of the company.  Q1 can be a slightly more difficult time and typically the second weakest quarter of the year.  The Holiday rush is over and the market slows down.  For NVIDIA, this was not exactly the case.  While NVIDIA made $2.173 billion in Q4 2017, they came remarkably close to that with revenues of $1.937 billion.  While $250 million is a significant drop, it is not an unexpected one.  In fact, it shows NVIDIA being slightly stronger than expectations.

NVIDIA-Logo.jpg

The past year has shown tremendous growth for NVIDIA.  Their GPUs remain strong and they have the highest performing parts at the upper midrange and high end markets.  AMD simply has not been able to compete with NVIDIA, much less overcome the company with higher performing parts at the top end.  GPUs still make up the largest portion of income that NVIDIA receives.  NVIDIA continues to invest in new areas and those investments are starting to pay off.

Automotive is still in the growth stages for the company, but they have successfully taken the Tegra CPU division and moved away from the cellphone and tablet markets.  NVIDIA continues to support their Shield products, but the main focus looks to be the automotive industry with these high performing, low power parts that sport advanced graphical options.  Professional graphics continues to be a stronghold for NVIDIA.  While it did drop quite a bit from the previous quarter, it is a high margin area that helps bolster revenues.

The biggest mover over this past year seems to be the Data Center.  Last year NVIDIA focused on delivering entire solutions to the market as well as their individual GPUs.  The past two years have seen them have essentially no income in this area to having a $400 million quarter.  This is simply tremendous growth in an area that is still relatively untapped when it comes to GPU compute.

results.png

NVIDIA continues to be very aggressive in their product design and introductions.  They have simply owned the $300+ range of graphics cards with the GTX 1070, GTX 1080, and the recently introduced GTX 1080 Ti.  This is somewhat ignoring the even higher end TitanXp that is priced well above most enthusiasts’ budgets.  Today they announced the V100 chip that is the first glimpse we have of a high end part running on TSMC’s new 12nm FinFET process.  It also features 16 GB of HBM2 memory and a whopping 21 billion transistors in total.

Next quarter looks to be even better than this one, which is a shock because Q2 has traditionally been the slowest quarter of the year.  NVIDIA expects around $1.95 billion in revenues (actually increasing from Q1).  NVIDIA also is rewarding shareholders with not only a quarterly dividend, but also has been actively buying back shares (which tends to keep share prices healthy).  Early last year NVIDIA had a share price of around $30 while today they are trending well above $100.

SXM2-VoltaChipDetails.png

If NVIDIA keeps this up while continuing to expand in automotive and data center, it is a fairly safe bet that they will easily overtop $8 billion in revenues for the year.  Q3 and Q4 will be stronger if they continue to advance in those areas while retaining marketshare in the GPU market.  With rumors hinting that AMD will not have a product that will top the GTX 1080Ti, it is a safe bet that NVIDIA can easily adjust their prices across the board to stay competitive with whatever AMD throws at them.

It is interesting to look back when AMD was shopping around for a graphics firm and wonder what could have happened.  Hector Ruiz was in charge of AMD and tried to leverage a deal with NVIDIA.  Rumors have it that Huang would not agree to it unless he was CEO.  Hector laughed and talked to ATI who was more than happy to sell (and cover up some real weaknesses in the company).  We all know what happened to Hector and how his policies and actions started the spiral that AMD is only now recovering from.  What would that have been like if Jensen had actually become CEO of that merged company?

Source: NVIDIA

Podcast #448 - Mesh Networking, Corsair ONE PRO, Windows 10 S, and Vega Specs

Subject: Editorial | May 4, 2017 - 10:15 AM |
Tagged: Windows 10 S, video, Vega, surface, Predator X27, podcast, ONE PRO, mesh, Intel, google wifi, eero, corsair, atom, Amplifi HD, acer

PC Perspective Podcast #448 - 05/04/17

Join us for mesh networking performance, Corsair ONE PRO, Microsoft / AMD / NVIDIA updates, 'leaked' Vega specs and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 54:15

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  4. Closing/outro
 

Source:

Podcast #447 - Intel Optane, Watercooling, Mini ITX AM4, and Intel Optane

Subject: Editorial | April 27, 2017 - 12:19 PM |
Tagged: podcast, Win 3.11, ssd, riotoro, Optane Memory, Optane, Intel, GTX 1080Ti, fsp, evga, EK Supremacy, corsair, biostar, asus, video

PC Perspective Podcast #447 - 04/27/17

Join us for loads of Intel Optane, multiple water cooling parts, a Mini-ITX AM4 board, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano, Ken Addison, Morry Teitelman

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:50:22

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Allyn: Factorio fans - 0.15 experimental is out! (new graphics)(dev test img)
    2. Morry: Bayonetta
  4. Closing/outro

 

 

Source:

Podcast #446 - Radeon RX 580, Open Benchtable, DAN Cases, Intel Rumors, and more!

Subject: Editorial | April 20, 2017 - 11:25 AM |
Tagged: video, Z270X, tinker board, t-mobile, RX 580, radeon, podcast, Open BenchTable, mini-itx, logitech, keyboard, gigabyte, G413, DAN Cases, asus, A4-SFX

PC Perspective Podcast #446 - 04/20/17

Join us for Radeon RX 580 review, Open Benchtable and DAN cases,  Intel Rumors and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:38:24

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  1. News items of interest:
    1. 1:11:00 ASUS Launches the Tinker Board in North America
  1. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Jeremy: Great deal on a modular Rosewill Glacier Series 500W
  2. Closing/outro
 

Source:

Podcast #445 - Ryzen 5, 2017 Spring Buyers Guide, Alphacool, VIVO, Lian Li, and more!

Subject: Editorial | April 13, 2017 - 11:17 AM |
Tagged: windows 10, western digital, VIVO, UNIGINE, ryzen, podcast, nvidia, Lian Li, Buyers Guide, Alphacool, adata

PC Perspective Podcast #445 - 04/13/17

Join us for Ryzen 5, Spring 2017 Buyers Guide, Alphacool, VIVO, Lian Li, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg

 

Program length: 1:26:29

Podcast topics of discussion:
 

Source:

Podcast #444 - ASUS Motherboard, NVIDIA Quadro, AMD ReLive, DDR5

Subject: Editorial | April 6, 2017 - 12:57 AM |
Tagged: Z270E, windows 10, relive, podcast, pascal, NVIDA, Mad Catz, Imagination Technologies, ddr5, asus, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #444 - 04/6/17

Join us for an ASUS Z270 Motherboard, NVIDIA Quadro, AMD ReLive, DDR5 and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, Ken Addison

Program length: 1:05:50
 
Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Jeremy: ASUS GTX 1080 8GB ROG STRIX, CAN or US
  4. Closing/outro

Source:

Podcast #443 - Thermoelectric Coolers, Storage Reviews, and a StarCraft Remaster. oh my.

Subject: Editorial | March 30, 2017 - 10:40 AM |
Tagged: starcraft, Silverstone, Samsung, podcast, Phonoic, Optane, microSD, Lexar, HEX 2.0, drobo, CORSAIR ONE, ashes of the singularity, aida64, 5N2

PC Perspective Podcast #443 - 03/30/17

Join us for Thermoelectric Coolers, Tiny PSUs, Lots o' Storage, some trips down nostaglia lane, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Program length: 1:34:48

 

Source: