Monday March 27, 2017

Intel Optane Memory Arrives With Crazy Low Queue Depth Performance

There has been a lot of buzz lately about Intel's new Optane storage technology. If you are like me, the news on Optane has been a little bit confusing, and lacking on practical details. LegitReviews has done a good job with their Intel decoder rings (they must buy the Intel branded cereal) and have broken down Intel's Optane technology, and what it will actually mean for end users.

Think of the technology as Intel Smart Response Technology 2.0, but instead of caching a slower drive with an SSD, we are now caching that same slower drive with a very fast 3D Xpoint memory. 3D Xpoint is a new form of non-volatile RAM faster and more expensive than traditional flash RAM. As has been reported before, Optane is laid out with a focus on very high Random I/O performance, at the expense of sequential transfer speed, and this makes perfect sense due to its intended application. The cache is intended to speed up OS and programs, but is not intended to be a standalone drive, so large sequential transfers are eventually going to become limited to the sequential performance of the drive it is caching anyway.

Intel claims Optane will improve performance when used to cache traditional hard drives, SATA SSD's, and hybrid SSHD's, but omits to say anything about PCIe or M.2 SSD's. It will be interesting to see how it performs once it is released and some real world testing surfaces.

News Image

Intel tries to sell the value of investing more intro Intel Optane memory than system memory in the slide above where they look at a system with 8GB of memory and a hard drive versus a system with 4GB of memory and a 16GB Intel Optane Memory solution. They saw higher scores in SYSmark 2014 SE with less system memory and the Intel Optane memory module. By showing a 97% increase in system responsiveness they believe that end users can safely reduce the money they put into DRAM and put it towards Intel Optane Memory for a better overall system. This is something that we look forward into looking at when we get our Intel Optane memory samples as running 4GB of memory in a brand new system here in 2017 does seem a bit silly.