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Intel 3D Xpoint Technology Will Support Its Memory Business Growth

Intel has been actively investing in its Non-Volatile Memory (NVM) business, including the development of future storage technologies and capital equipment needed to expand NVM capacity. With the growing market for solid-state drives (SSDs), driven by Intel’s exclusive 3D XPoint technology, Intel’s NVM business is expected to grow from losses to profits in 2018, and it will be able to make significant profits in the future.

According to The Motley Fool, Intel’s 2017 memory business revenue grew 36.6% to US$3.5 billion, due to the growth in SSD shipments based on NAND Flash and its 3D XPoint technology. Although the business suffered a loss of approximately US$300 million in 2017, Intel recently stated in its annual report that it expects the business to achieve profitability in 2018.

As SSDs gradually replace HDDs in PCs and data center storage applications, the market continues to grow. Intel announced in early April a series of new processors and platforms for high-performance notebook computers (NBs) and desktop computers (DTs), and these Core i3 +, Core i5 + and other processors and previous chips The difference is that the computer is equipped with Intel Optane memory. Intel hopes to use the speed advantage of 3D Xpoint technology to increase the demand of the PC market.

At the same time, the SSD market continues to expand in size, especially with strong server market demand. IDC estimates that by 2021, the SSD market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 14.8% to US$33.6 billion. In response to the server's need for large-capacity storage and high-speed transmission, Samsung, Intel, Toshiba, and Micron have 8TB of capacity and support PCIe 3.0x4 interface speed. The continuous growth in capacity and demand is the driving force for the continuous growth of the SSD market.

The Intel NVM business generated revenue of $3.5 billion in 2017. By 2021, the growth of Intel's NVM business will maintain a consistent growth level with the market. In addition, Intel’s competitive position in the NAND Flash space is improving. If the company can increase market share in the next few years, it will not be surprising that revenue will further accelerate its growth.

The SSD market is a huge and growing opportunity for Intel. In addition to the Samsung Z-NAND technology that competes with Intel's 3D Xpoint technology, only its development partner, Micron, has 3D XPoint memory technology.

The 3D XPoint is much faster than NAND Flash, but the production cost is high. This memory technology enables Intel to launch SSDs that are much faster than NAND Flash. For performance-sensitive data center customers, Intel is more inclined to use 3D XPoint technology SSDs for storage areas such as big data, cloud computing, cloud storage, and cloud services.

Although Intel’s NVM business continues to suffer losses, from the year 2018 onwards, Intel’s NVM business will be expected to start generating profits and eventually reach a certain scale. Although Intel may need to increase investment to maintain the development of new technologies, these operating expenses should not grow as fast as Intel's revenue. Therefore, Intel's NVM will generate more and more profits in the coming years.