In February we speculated that Intel might divest itself of its Optane memory business. In its latest earnings release, Intel stated that “in the second quarter of 2022, we began to wind down our Intel Optane memory business.” The earnings report also noted that Intel will take a $559 million Optane Memory Impairment charge this quarter. Below is an image of an Optane SSD.
In January 2021, Intel said it would stop shipping most Optane-based products for consumer applications (eg gaming). In March 2021, Micron, Intel’s former 3D XPoint partner (the name of Intel’s Optane memory joint project) said it was discontinuing 3D XPoint development and later in the year sold the Lehi Utah plant where produced 3D XPoint for Intel and its own. use, for IT.
Intel sold most of its memory business when it announced in December 2021 that it was selling its SSD and NAND business to SK hynix, including Intel’s NAND plant in Delian, China. This business unit is now called Solidigm (a subsidiary of SK hynix). The exit from the Optane business nearly completes the company’s exit from selling memory products.
The winning message from Intel leaves open the possibility that Intel could sell its Optane business to another company, as it did with its NAND and SSD business. Optane is incorporated into storage and memory systems by several companies. These companies should consider what their next steps might be.
However, we believe that Intel has subsidized its Optane products in order to keep the price low enough to generate demand (roughly half the price of DRAM, in $/GB). The idea would be to subsidize the product until production volume brought costs down to less than the price they had to sell for to fill the DRAM memory. Also, Intel had indicated for several years that they saw Optane combined with the company’s server chips as a differentiator from other server CPU companies.
Intel says it is 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.