back to article Controlled remote access reviews of Optane SSD give qualified yes

A burst of Optane memory reviews have come out, timed to coincide with Optane retail availability, but none of them answer the "Is it cost-effectively faster than flash?" question. Optane is Intel's branded non-volatile 3D XPoint memory, which has lower latency access and higher endurance than NAND. Earlier this month we saw …

  1. Redstone

    Hmmm

    Most of the reviewers seem to be locked into a very IT-centric worldview as to how storage should behave. There is a whole universe of embedded and high-end applications where high throughput random access and guaranteed low latency would be a major boon - virtually any real-time digital signal processing application, for example.

    1. theblackhand

      Re: Hmmm

      While I have no doubt that there are some uses for Optane, the challange is do I get the best value out of Optane at 10x the price of an equivalent SSD or am I better off with a combination of a larger SSD/multiple SSD's and more physical memory to cache the IO as a midpoint in cost?

    2. Ian Michael Gumby
      Boffin

      @ Redstone ... Re: Hmmm

      There is the issue of cost vs performance and compare it to alternatives.

      Using your example, you'd be better off packing more memory (DRAM) in to the system.

      Now if they could put out a 1-2TB m.2 card/stick with the same performance and not be cost prohibitive, you would have a more viable solution.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Your "whole univerise" is a niche

      Compared to the rest of the market. Reviewers are looking at people using PCs and laptops, not high end real time applications or specialty embedded needs.

  2. tedleaf

    Thank you Redstone,I was thinking exactly the same.

    The prices for the 16/32 gb are still cheap,I can see a use for these in lots of systems,if they were backwards compatible with older gpu's etc,perhaps in later iterations they can try that..

    Me,I'll still stick to 10k hdd's and lots of fast ram,ssd's are fine,but small and pricey,the advantage over 10k drives is obviously less..

    It's still the quickest easiest way to speed up a sluggish system,stick in one 10k drive,it makes a huge difference when replacing 5200rpm hdd's on bog standard home/small office machines,which is where the 26/32 gb units should be aimed at..

    Not everything is designed for high end power users or servers,there are millions of machine that could have their performance enhanced for a while longer using this kit..

    What happens if you use these in an already hybrid system,ssd boot drive and 7500 hdd's ?

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      The prices aren't that cheap compared to just buying an SSD though. For the same price you can buy an SSD that performs about as fast*, but with 5-10 times the capacity.

      The main selling point is that the caching for the harddrive seems to work well, but that won't be available in older systems, because it's tied to the motherboard chipset.

      Also, a cheap SSD makes a much better replacement for a harddrive than a 10k disk, unless they need massive amounts of storage, in which case just get an SSD anyway and move the OS to that, and keep the old disks as storage.

      * It depends on exactly what your workload is, but for the average user upgrading from a HDD, they''re basically 'as fast'.

  3. Richard Lloyd

    Seems to be pointless to me

    The M.2 Optane SSD has so many disadvantages, it does beggar belief:

    Takes up a precious M.2 slot (often only one on the motherboard), making it impossible to add a "full fat" M.2 SSD at a later date without throwing it away.

    Only works on latest gen (Kaby Lake) Intel processors, so go away old gen Intel and the entire AMD userbase.

    Only works on Windows 10 - go away Windows 7, 8, 8.1, Mac OS X and Linux users.

    Slower than an equivalent normal M.2 SSD in most cases.

    More expensive per GB than almost any other SSD.

    Requires a special memory driver.

    It should be noted that a 256GB M.2 SSD is around 120-130 quid and is a far more sensible purchase than this Optane nonsense (as, to be fair, the article points out). In fact, I just got a 256GB M.2 SSD for my new PC I'll be getting next week...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seems to be pointless to me

      +100

      It appears that this is just something to flog the latest Intel silicon and win 10 and not doing a very good job of it.

    2. Ian Michael Gumby
      Boffin

      @Richard Lloyd ... Re: Seems to be pointless to me

      I would beg to differ.

      Not exactly pointless. This is first gen of a tech that still really hasn't reached the market.

      I'd wait until it hits gen 3 or 4 where the price point drops and Intel has all of the kinks worked out.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > This is first gen of a tech that still really hasn't reached the market.

    And I wonder what is the hidden weakness which means that Intel aren't able to put samples into the hands of reviewers, but all testing must be done remotely?

    Suggestions:

    - Intel have been unable to manufacture successfully more than a few dozen working samples

    - The devices get scarily hot

    - The products don't exist at all, and the remote labs are actually just simulations of what the finished product "might" be like

    None of these scenarios inspires confidence. In any case, the product is still not ready, and Intel are desperately trying to show *something* to investors after all the hype.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Or more likely:-

      - Intel don't want it reviewed by third parties because the hype has considerably exceeded the achievable technical performance of the preproduction kit and they hope to improve matters before releasing it to a bunch of reviewers who might then slate it for being crap.

  5. Sil

    Seems very slow. A reboot of Windows on my Samsung 950 Pro SSD takes a few seconds. Granted, the price point isn't the same.

    I've never seen the appeal of hybrid storage since nowadays SSDs are cheap enough that you can purchase a whole SSD for boot/system/main apps and a traditional HD for data, a much more satisfying choice.

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