Back in February, we speculated that Intel might abandon its Optane memory business. “In Q2 2022, we begin to decommission our Intel Optane memory business,” Intel said in its most recent earnings call. The earnings report also noted that Intel will take a $559M “optane memory impairment” charge this quarter. Below is an image of the Optane SSD.
By January 2021, Intel says it will stop shipping most Optane-based products for consumer applications (eg gaming). In the year In March 2021, Micron, Intel’s former 3D XPoint (Intel Optane Memory joint project name) partner, announced that it was ceasing development of 3D XPoint, and later that year it was selling its Lehigh, Utah plant to use 3D XPoint for Intel and itself, to TI.
Intel sold most of its memory business in December 2021 when it announced the sale of its SSD and NAND business to SK hynix, including the Intel NAND fab in Delian, China. This business unit is now called Soldigm (a subsidiary of SK hynix). Exiting the Optan business completes the company’s exit from selling memory products.
Intel’s incoming message leaves open the possibility that Intel could sell its Optane business to another company, as it has done with NAND and SSDs. Optane has been incorporated into storage and memory systems by many companies. These companies need to think about what their next steps might be.
However, we believe Intel is subsidizing its Optane products to keep the price low for demand (half the cost of DRAM, in $/GB). The manufacturing rate is to subsidize production until the cost of adding DRAM memory drops below the price needed to sell it. Intel also pointed out that for a number of years, Optane has been integrated into the company’s server chips, distinguishing it from other server CPU companies.
Intel says it is winding down its Optane memory business. It remains to be seen whether Optane will be picked up elsewhere or excluded. But it’s clear that Intel no longer sees Optane as part of its future.