Intel's Upcoming Ultra-Fast Optane SSD May Come to MacBooks


macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Last summer, Intel announced 3D Xpoint, a new class of memory labeled as a "major breakthrough in memory process technology." 3D Xpoint is 1,000 times faster and more durable than NAND Flash storage, as well as 10 times denser than the DRAM chips used in computers.
The innovative, transistor-less cross point architecture creates a three-dimensional checkerboard where memory cells sit at the intersection of word lines and bit lines, allowing the cells to be addressed individually. As a result, data can be written and read in small sizes, leading to faster and more efficient read/write processes.
Intel has promised that the first 3D Xpoint (pronounced "crosspoint") product will be coming in early 2016 in the form of its Optane solid state drives, which may be of interest to Apple. According to Macworld, 3D Xpoint is compatible with NVM Express (NVMe), an SSD protocol that offers improved latency and performance over the older AHCI protocol.

Apple's Retina MacBooks already use NVMe technology, and it's likely Skylake Macs set to be released across 2016 will also support NVMe. With NVMe compatibility built into 3D Xpoint, Apple could adopt Intel's Optane solid state drives for super fast performance speeds that significantly outpace what's possible with current SSDs. As Macworld points out, Apple is often an early adopter of emerging technology, having been the first company to implement Thunderbolt and chip technology from Intel.

While Intel is planning to make its Optane SSDs available in 2016, the technology is unlikely to see widespread adoption right away. 3D Xpoint storage solutions will likely exist alongside NAND Flash options until prices become affordable enough for use in mass-produced products. Intel is also working on Optane memory DIMMs.

If Apple does choose to use Intel's Optane SSDs in future Macs, it could be some time before Optane-equipped machines are available. Upgraded Macs that are expected in 2016 will likely continue to use NAND Flash, but as mentioned previously, speed improvements could come in the form of wider NVMe adoption.

Skylake chips appropriate for many of Apple's Macs are currently available or will be available in the near future, so we may begin seeing the the first Mac upgrades in the next few months, perhaps at Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference.

Article Link: Intel's Upcoming Ultra-Fast Optane SSD May Come to MacBooks


Sep 4, 2009
This is how the old school magnetic core memory used to work. Just a dozen or so order of magnitude less in size and power. Run Linux on this a "core dump" now is back to where it came from originally.
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Moderator emeritus
Dec 10, 2008
It will be at least a few years, more likely ~2020-2022, before 3D XPoint and similar technologies are affordable for consumer storage. Intel and Micron will have a short-term monopoly on the technology, meaning that there is absolutely no reason for them to price it low since enterprise customers will gladly pay several dollars per gigabyte for it. It's likely that Apple also wants another supplier before adopting a new memory technology to avoid any supply issues.


macrumors 6502a
Jun 13, 2011
I expect these new Xpoint drives to be insanely expensive at first and not very mainstream-friendly - and be available only for workstations.

How about making them available on the next Mac Pro tho?


macrumors 6502
Oct 10, 2008
I'm pretty sure it's the PCIe interface that makes the current-gen SSD's faster than the SATA ones, not the NVMe protocol. AHCI SSD's over PCIe are pretty much just as fast as the ones with NVMe with sequential read/writes (though admittedly, it is slightly slower at other tasks).


macrumors 68030
May 3, 2013
Berlin, Berlin
I still can't believe that Skylake's Thunderbolt 3 will only support DisplayPort 1.2 and can't run an external Retina display. That's what I need to overcome my 12-inch screen space anxiety, unless Apple makes me a 14-inch MacBook.


macrumors 6502
Jun 9, 2011
Wow, just wild speculation or do you have a source? If true, that would be awesome, but likely add $799 to the config. Don't ask how I came to that number, it's not important.


macrumors regular
Mar 1, 2016
Reno, NV
This technology sounds promising but I can't believe something that such a huge leap in performance over current storage technology will come cheaply. They may come out with hardware this year, but it will be a few more years before it becomes affordable enough to be a viable upgrade.

As it it, a quality SSD is already pretty fast. What is there to gain unless you routinely copy terabyte sized files. I'd rather Apple focus on graphics performance. Probably the weakest point in any Mac computer these days.
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macrumors 6502a
Nov 21, 2014
Fun fact: iPhone 6S and 6S Plus also have an NVMe controller designed in-house by Apple, so this could also be implemented into future iPhones (and iPads for that matter).
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Jun 3, 2015
EDIT: Don't you hate when a company introduce some "high and mighty" products...but never actually see in current products...or will you see in 2 generation or later in apple products?
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macrumors 68000
Mar 7, 2014
Thats crazy. Like saying buy a Ferrari with a 1 litre engine or pay extra for the V12.

Apple kit - certainly desktops and I include the mini should not be offered with 5400rpm spinning disks.
I agree. Paying top dollar and getting some of the lowest end specs, with additional premiums required for higher decent specs, is ridiculous. But people will still buy 'em up regardless of what they include.
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