back to article Intel's Optane in PCs is as good as it will get for years, says analyst

Memory-centric analyst firm TrendFocus reckons Intel's Optane is going to take years to make a difference in the data centre, which means using it in PCs is as good as it will get for the foreseeable future. The good news is that Optane screams in PCs: the firm cites a Gamespot review to assert that a PC with Optane and a 1TB …

  1. Steve Todd

    Maybe I'm missing something

    But that Gamespot review is mostly comparing against traditional HHDs, with only passing mention to SSDs, and when it does talk about them it makes speed comparisons with SATA units, not M.2.

    Optane seems to be at best only a small improvement over SSD, and at worst a disappointment.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Maybe I'm missing something

      Have another coffee Steve! Yeah, you're right in that SSDs will be faster than a Optane + spinning rust setup. However, the point of the article was that a 1TB Optane + rust setup was no slouch, and yet still much cheaper than a pure SSD setup of the same capacity.

      The second point of the article was that this isn't suitable for reinvigorating older PCs, because Optane requires newer Intel CPUs. Also, the spinning rust is more suited to desktops than it the laptops that many people use as their primary computer.

      1. Steve Todd

        @Dave 126

        To quote the article "the firm cites a Gamespot review to assert that a PC with Optane and a 1TB, 7,200 RPM spinning rust hard was four to eight times faster than a solid state disk at read-heavy tasks data."

        Gamespot said no such thing. They made only limited comparisons with SATA SSDs, and you can pick up a 500GB SATA drive for not much more than the Optane + 1TB combo.

    2. Naselus

      Re: Maybe I'm missing something

      It's not a replacement for SSD. It's a caching solution for keeping HDD relevant - so more a replacement for hybrids. An M2 SSD is still going to be the better option if cash isn't a problem, but Optane+HDD will beat SSD on $/GB hands-down while still being a lot quicker than just HDD.

    3. druck Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Maybe I'm missing something

      Optane is a massive disappointment, look back at the early hype from Intel, it was supposed to do to flash what flash has done rust. Now we are staring to see products, they are nothing near what was promised.

  2. Justin Clift

    Jury still out on Optane endurance

    Anandtech did a review a few days ago:

    The supplied Optane module didn't make it through testing:

    After about a day of benchmarking the Optane Memory review system locked up, and after rebooting the Optane Memory module was not detected and the OS installation was corrupted beyond repair.

    As pointed out by the reviewer, this isn't completely unknown when testing things, and may just be a case of bad luck.

    But, it's worth bearing in mind until more real world endurance results come in.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why no figures...

    for the speeds when it's used with an SSD?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Why no figures...

      It's all there in the source article:

  4. Rabbit80

    Personally I run a couple of 512GB SSDs in a RAID 0 stripe.. tops out at around 1100MB/s and gives me plenty of space for OS and most applications.. On top of that I have a RAID 0 with 2x 2TB SSHD for storage, and a 6TB Western Digital Red for backup. I also have a 60GB SLC SSD which is used for page file and temp files in order to prevent unnecessary wear to the larger SSDs.

    1. beast666

      Errm... Great!

    2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      I'm going to upvote you for the idea about using a smaller ssd for the pagefile

      1. Def Silver badge

        Smaller pagefiles

        I find my system rarely even uses the pagefile. I have 16GB of RAM, and the pagefile is set up to be between 16 and 4096 MB by default. It's currently using 62MB, apparently, but I suspect that's mostly because Windows likes to think it's in control as much as anything else.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "I'm going to upvote you for the idea about using a smaller ssd for the pagefile"

        I'm not. Smaller drives have lower endurance. If you have enough ram pagefile isn't touched anyway.

        As for Raid0 - it's great if you like your system hand-grenading from time to time but otherwise only use it for caches.

        1. Naselus

          "Smaller drives have lower endurance."

          Surely that's irrelevant if the drive is only used for the page file, though? This way, when his page drive craps out, he just swaps in a new one with no need to shuffle data around. And since he can just use a 64 gig SSD for it, it's cheap, cheerful and avoids wrecking a much more expensive drive with pointless swap ops.

  5. bombastic bob Silver badge

    but if we have to run Win-10-nic to use it...

    but if we have to run Win-10-nic to use it, then it's just not worth it (to me anyway).

    Remember, Micro-shaft will not support new tech with Windows 7.

  6. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Nice, but

    I also need very fast sustained write speeds for my planetary camera, which can easily sustain 450 MB/s , maxing out its USB3 connection. For solar images like this, I readily grab 20GB of data.

  7. LeoP

    Only on new Intel processors?

    bcache has been doing things like that with big disk / small SSD setups quite nicely ... on any processor the kernel runs on and with any type or brand of block device.

    I use an NVM card as the cache device, which has of course zero wear to really speed up a DB, and with SSDs it gives quite a nice KVM environment.

    So, what's this all about with WIndows only and newest Intel CPUs only?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Only on new Intel processors?

      What's new is the faster-than-SSD cheaper-than-DRAM non-volatile memory called Optane. How it might come to be used is the point under discussion in the article. Cheers!

  8. Jim-234

    Kind of pointless given the CPU requirements

    If you are going to be spending the money on a latest (7th gen) model CPU then you probably have money in the budget for a good NVMe M.2 SSD (or at least a good SATA SSD).

    The Hybrid unit idea is a re-hash from a couple years ago, and offers all the same pitfalls as previously.

    Sluggish performance once you start doing anything requiring large amounts of read / write

    Buggy when using "alternative" OSes, but probably works okay with Windows 10

    Spinning HDD pulling more power

    Spinning HDD likely to die if it gets dropped

    Cost savings of maybe $100?

    Not worth it.

    1. Paul Shirley

      Re: Kind of pointless given the CPU requirements

      Depends on your workload. Flash storage is notorious for poor performance with small random access and low queue depths. NVMe doesn't fix that, I saw microscopic change moving from SATA SSD to fast MVMe M2. This Optane incarnation is good at those access patterns, but doesn't improve with larger reads.

      For some workloads Optane could crush any NVMe flash device (for now). Just can't imagine what they are because the drivers aren't likely to actually cache data files.

  9. Alan Brown Silver badge

    The review is rather telling

    (4kB random r/w) "Again, Optane really eclipses the standalone hard drive here. Whereas the HDD reached random read and write speeds of .5MB/s and 1.7MB/s, respectively, Optane averaged 126.3 MB/s and 196.8 MB/s. Those are orders of magnitude faster performances."

    A decent SATA SSD (SM863) will go _at least_ twice as fast as the Optane+HDD combo, let alone if you use a decent NVMe device - and they're simply not particularly expensive in smaller sizes (256 or 512Gb)

    This really is a solution in search of a problem that was solved years ago. If this is all Optane is good for then Flash will continue to eat its lunch.

    Now, what if someone sets up a bcache with Optane+NVMe drive? Worthwhile or a pile of fetid dingo kidneys?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If Optane is so good for speeding up hard drives

    Seagate needs to built it into them, because having a separate slot on the motherboard is a stupid way to introduce cache for a hard drive...

    1. MadPsy

      Re: If Optane is so good for speeding up hard drives

      Yeah, it's not like you'd want to bypass the SATA bus or anything...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If Optane is so good for speeding up hard drives

        That mostly matters for sequential throughput, and if you want to write faster than the 600 GB/sec that SATA is capable of you shouldn't be trying to accelerate a hard drive, you should be using an SSD (or striping multiple SSDs if you really want to go fast)

        Yeah, the latency also improves not going through SATA, but again if you need latency measured in microseconds, using a fast cache on a hard drive is very much the wrong approach no matter how fast that cache is.

        1. Naselus

          Re: If Optane is so good for speeding up hard drives

          I think you mean 600 MB/sec. SATA can't chug half a terabyte a second.

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