So, how much will Optane SSDs cost?

by Robin Harris on Friday, 1 April, 2016

I opined recently on ZDNet that I expected Optane SSDs would come out at $2/GB. Josh Goldenhar of Excelero had a thoughtful rejoinder:

. . . I think Octane will be more expensive. You mentioned $0.20/GB for flash – but I think that’s for SATA flash or consumer flash. The Intel NVMe p DC3XXX line seems to selloff about $1/GB, maybe discounted to $.50/GB for large customers.

The new Samsung PM953 ‘Data Center’ drive (read optimized, but enough endurance for 3 year use…) goes for about $.50/GB. Their high end drives like the PM1725 are closer to the $2/GB range ($1/GB for massive customers).

So I think Optane will come in at a premium to the $1/GB NVMe drives – probably closer to $3/GB for mere mortals, $2/GB for large customers.

The StorageMojo take
Josh is likely to be correct, but as of today I’ll bet Optane pricing is not set. Despite the excellent headline numbers – 1,000x faster, 1,000x endurance, less than a 10th the latency – I’d expect Intel/Micron are wrangling difficult issues such as yield, binning, controller/media tradeoffs, debating forward pricing, guessing at demand curves, and much more. Yet Josh is probably correct that initial pricing will be higher than I’d forecast.

Really, what does Intel have to lose by high initial pricing? A few early sales perhaps, but it isn’t as if they have much visible competition today. If another major semi firm announces, that will change the calculus.

The larger concern is that Intel might tie the 3D XPoint DIMMs to proprietary enhancements in Xeon CPUs. I’m confident that there are Intel strategists looking to recreate the golden age of Wintel share and margins with 3D XPoint technology. But that ship has sailed.

As soon as another RRAM product comes to market, Intel will have to choose between lock-in and winning on the merits. The former is great if you can do it without alienating customers, but the latter is the long term play.

Courteous comments welcome, of course.

Price lists
Since we’re talking about pricing I wanted to share some news. They aren’t up yet, but I’ve been working on getting some new price lists up on StorageMojo. Not for the dead Big Iron arrays, but for hipper flash products and such. It’s a lot less work for me and, I hope, a lot more relevant for readers. Any particular prices you’d like to see?

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