Intel Optane 3D XPoint Memory Review

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Joe Black

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Some nice figures, but not quite what I expected from the hype. Not sure if its amazing enough that it warrants a whole exclusive series with special motherboards et al.
 

Brian_R170

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The performance is better than I expected, but if I'm reading it right, the supported target market consists of desktops with 200-series chipsets and mechanical hard drives. That market just seems way too small. Am I missing something?

Wake me up when the rumored Intel 900p Optane SSD starts sampling in 500GB and larger sizes.
 

dstarr3

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This far exceeds the bandwidth of the SATA port you'd plug such a hard drive into, so you'd see no benefit over the SSHDs currently on the market.
 

gdmaclew

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Target market seems a little small (intentionally?).
I know this is early in the game but this has a slight RAMBUS smell to it. I hope I'm wrong.
I'll feel better when Intel at least offers licensing to other platforms (AMD).
 

hannibal

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In few year the support come to all PC platforms. And if this makes my hdd look like very fast ssd in normal usage... not bad at all.
Am I wrong if the maximum size that the cache support is still 64Gb? Hopefully there will be that size too Sooner than later. Then there would be less cache misses.
 

stairmand

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The problem I have is that I bought hybrid drives before and they were always a bit disappointing. The were mostly good but often crappy, not sure I'd want to tread that path again.
 
So if you have a 200-series chip set and a hard drive today this would be a really cheap storage upgrade. Interesting to see it doesn't really matter in real world testing as long as you are not using a spinning hard drive by itself regardless if its an nvme drive or Optane.
 

coldmast

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Are these any good as a SLOG write cache on ZFS? Googled answer is NO due to slow writes (not enough for 10GbE). However, these are read optimised so they might be good for L2ARC (AKA read cache's read cache). Time will tell for Optane as it is good to have another technology in the mix. (Is it too much to ask for a cheap, write-rugged 8GB SLOG?)
 

DavidC1

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"This far exceeds the bandwidth of the SATA port you'd plug such a hard drive into, so you'd see no benefit over the SSHDs currently on the market."

Yes it would. The Optane Memory device is on its on NVMe port. Unless you are suggesting of a future possible variant of an SSHD with Optane instead of NAND cache then you'd be right, sorta. The low queue depth performance would still be there even if its on SATA.

They do say SSHD is one of the devices you can pair with to get increased performance. Heck, they say even SATA SSDs can benefit from it, of course the benefit would be small.

Optane is a far better cache than NAND SSD cache not only because of its better low queue depth performance but because it does not suffer from performance degradation when "dirty" as illustrated here: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-optane-3d-xpoint-p4800x,5030-5.html
 

daglesj

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Designed for cheap machines still using a HDD? So if OEMs will skimp on not putting a SSD inside in the first place why would they bother to install this for $20 extra a box when the cheapass customer doesn't really care anyway? This product makes no sense for the supposed market Intel is pushing it. This is like offering supercharger kits to makers of budget hatchbacks. The customers don't want it in the first place.
 

jimmysmitty

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I think this is a first step. They need to recoup the R&D somehow and it is a leg up over the competition as AMD doesn't have anything equivalent currently.

Right now CPUs are at a wall that neither has really broken nor will for a few more generations or until some crazy breakthrough happens. Until then the rest of the system needs to catch up. SSDs provided that jump start and now NVMe SSDs on M.2 are pushing it even further.

One problem is cost though. Due to issues with newer types NAND has been going up instead of down. Hopefully that will change sooner rather than later. I am still waiting to switch out my 4TB worth of magnetic drives to a 4TB SSD but don't want to pay the crazy price right now.



I think the biggest thing will be once NVDIMMS are ready. If this can pack 256GB into a few sticks I would gladly move to it for an OS drive, especially if they can get it to utilize the bandwidth that memory channels that would be a massive jump from even current NVMe/PCIe SSDs.



I don't think it is unethical in any way. Intel is by no means required to provide the information to journalists and journalists shouldn't even rely on that anyways as it normally is just marketing. When Intel/AMD states "XX%" above "XX" a journalist should be skeptical until they test it themselves. Even if they point out it should be better in "XX" situation.
 

CRamseyer

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Maybe they just want to spread the 3D XPoint gospel?

There are messaging issues all over the place. It took us a little while to even figure out what was going on with the inner workings due to some of the software tools crashing.
 

dudmont

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I'll get excited about this technology when the interfaces catch up to it. PCIEx4 are quite fast and benefit zero from optane compared to standared mlc nand, or the differences in latency are so small that a normal human won't possibly notice. We would need interfaces that have virtually unlimited throughput before optane would show any kind of serious advantage over nand based storage.
 

CaptainTom

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God I am just so disappointed by how far Xpoint has underdelivered.

I remember a couple years ago when Intel advertised this as "DRAM-fast storage! 1000x faster than SSD's". Then a year went by and they never clarified which RAM or SSD's they were talking about. Every time someone asked them, they quoted smaller and smaller numbers.


Now we're at the release, and it's just twice as fast as a bloody standard SSD! Good lord it can't even claim faster speeds than a bargain bin PCIE SSD.
 

CRamseyer

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I wouldn't be so quick to write it off. Intel won't disclose the number of channels of the Optane Memory device. A single die flash device with a single channel would be fairly slow. We'll know more when the consumer Optane SSD comes later this year.
 

Uniblab

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Since optane comes in different flavors: Enterprise, RST and eventually consumer ssd's, shoudnt the title of the review reflect this. There are a few reviews on the enterprise model@375gig and the difference is notable - even though they were tested on intels servers. This is a review on the add on card, not the final version that will appeal to geek types. So yes, its optane memory. But no its not an ssd that should perform at 10x what is expected of mid to better performing ssd's. When a optane ssd comes out, what will you call that review?
 

sephirotic

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What a ridiculous throughput. So much time waiting for this disapointment. Yes, IOS and latency are important but without proper throughput this seems utterly pointless, specially for people that work with video like me. Who the hell would have a 200 series motherboard with a mechanical os drive and still willing to pay 50usd for measly 16gb of cache? Jesus christ, no thanks Ill get a 960 m2 instead.
 

jimmysmitty

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You can get a 960 M.2 for $50 bucks?

Still missing the point. Since 2TBs of SSD is still not cheap and video editing takes a ton of space this is not a bad idea as a scratch drive or cache for those who need that extra storage space.
 
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