Back in February, we speculated that Intel might go out of business with Optane memory. In its most recent earnings release, Intel said that “in Q2 2022, we initiated the closure of our Intel Optane memory business.” The earnings report also states that Intel will collect a $559 million Optane memory impairment fee this quarter. Below is an image of an Optane SSD.
Intel Optane SSD
Intel Marketing Image
In January 2021, Intel announced it would stop shipping most Optane-based products for consumer applications (like games). In March 2021, Micron, Intel’s former partner for 3D XPoint (the collective project name for Intel’s Optane memory), announced that it was discontinuing development of 3D XPoint and sold it later in the year to its Lehigh, Utah facility, where Intel’s acquired. Created for 3D Xpoint. Use for TI.
Intel sold most of its storage business when it announced back in December 2021 that it would sell its SSD and NAND businesses to SK Hynix, which included Intel’s NAND factory in Dalian, China. This business unit is now called Solidigm (a subsidiary of SK Hynix). Opting’s exit from the business completes the company’s exit from memory product distribution.
Intel’s earnings announcement leaves open the possibility that Intel could sell its Optane business to another company like it did its NAND and SSD businesses. Optane is integrated into memory and storage systems by many companies. These companies should consider what their next steps might be.
However, we believe that Intel is subsidizing its Optane products (about half the DRAM price in $/GB) to keep the price down and generate demand. The idea would be to subsidize the product until the scale of production to add DRAM memory brings the cost below the retail price. Additionally, for a number of years, Intel has indicated that they see Optane with the company’s server chips as a differentiator from other server CPU companies.
Intel says it’s shutting down its Optane memory business. It remains to be seen whether Optane will be revived elsewhere or simply phased out. But it’s clear that Intel no longer sees Optane as part of its future.