Though Intel’s processor game was somewhat weak at CES this year, a surprise did come in the form of its Optane product line. The chip manufacturer showcased a significant advancement in non-volatile data storage.

At CES, this came in the form of SSDs which are up to 10 times faster than regular ones. It’s based on 3D Xpoint, a technology jointly developed by Intel and Micron. However, Optane is a fusion of memory and storage, and we’ve yet to see the former.

That could soon change. Intel has begun shipping Optane DIMM to hardware makers, with a release date sometime next year. It’s currently being produced in Dalian, China, in limited quantities, though that’s expected to ramp up soon. Despite this, not much is known about Optane memory.

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Machine Learning Applications

However, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has hinted as considerable applications in the server space. He believes that Optane could unite storage and memory, allowing one unit to act as either depending on need.

This has many aplications, and many OEMs are integrating Optane in PC’s. Lenovo, HP, and Dell all announcing devices that will utilize the technology.

However, it will also help to speed up machine learning, as lots of data can be moved very quickly. This marks a new focus for Intel who has traditionally focused on the PC market.

Instead, we could see Intel making head space in the data center and server market. Krzanich has previously said this is the chip maker’s new strategy, and it could be a very profitable one if Optane is all it’s cracked up to be.

Intel’s Data Center Group published a revenue of $4.7 billion this quarter, up 8%. Meanwhile, IoT sat at $726 million, up by 16%. It’s far from industry giant’s, but the company’s continued growth and innovation could make it a big player in the years to come.

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