Intel Optane losses laid bare in SEC report

Intel’s 10-Q SEC filing for the third 2021 quarter ended September 25 reveals  its Optane business lost $473 million in the first nine months of 2020.

The 10-Q contains a fair amount of information about Intel’s Optane revenue and income numbers. The relevant section is page 30 in the Management’s Discussion and Analysis section, which deals with the Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group (NSG). This is part of Intel’s overall Data Center Group.

NSG revenues in the quarter were $1.1 billion, $48 million less than a year ago. Within that the Optane products – SSDs and Persistent Memory – accounted for $188 million, which was more than twice the $86 million accounted for by Optane revenues in Q3 2020. 

As the bulk of the NSG operation – NAND and SSDs – is being sold to SK hynix, the remnant Optane business numbers are included in Intel’s DCG numbers. The 10-Q document states: “Operating income also benefited from the transfer of the Intel Optane memory business from Q3 2021 NSG results (a loss of $116 million in Q3 2020). Optane memory business revenues were  $298 million in the year to date 2020 with negative operating income of $473 million.”

Let’s present that more simply:

In the first three quarters of 2020 every dollar of Optane revenue cost Intel $1.59. Chief Analyst Dylan Patel at SemiAnalysis read the 10-Q and tweeted: “No wonder Micron never shipped 3D XPoint and eventually dropped. It was burning hundreds of [millions of dollars] without shipping products for a net loss.”