Micron has announced it plans to sell its 3D XPoint fab in Lehi, Utah by the end of the year (via Tom’s Hardware). This comes after revealing it lost $400 million this year alone due to a lack of demand for the technology. 3D Xpoint is the tech found in Intel’s Optane drives and is a technology born out of a collaboration between Micron and Intel, the Intel Micron Flash Technologies (IMFT).
Intel and Micron ended this joint development venture in 2018 when Micron bought out Intel’s share of the business for a cool $1.5 billion. Intel and Micron still retain the intellectual property of 3D XPoint, and this isn’t expected to change even with the sale of the Utah fab.
3D XPoint looked good and paper and was tipped to be a possible future of storage, but the reality didn’t quite live up to the hype. While the performance in some areas is absolutely impressive, the overall package doesn’t make a lot of sense to consumers, especially as SSD technologies have improved.
The writing has been on the wall for a while here: Intel announced it was ceasing the production of Optane drives for desktop consumers in January 2021. The brand will live on in data centres, where the price to performance ratio makes a lot more sense, but for the vast majority of consumers, Optane is simply too expensive, and the benefits too marginal.
Intel also manufacturers its own 3D XPoint media at its New Mexico fab, although how much it produces there, isn’t clear. Intel could be a potential buyer for Micron’s Utah fab, although given it has agreed to sell its memory and storage business, including its SSD products to SK Hynix, such a purchase looks unlikely.
It’s clearly a tough time to be an SSD manufacturer, although it’s a great time to be a consumer, with some great deals to be had when it comes to the best SSDs for gaming.
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