Intel Optane memory - The next Generation Memory Experience for Computing and Gaming - Infire Tech & Trends - Technology, Entertainment, Arts and Crafts by Infire Media

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Intel Optane memory - The next Generation Memory Experience for Computing and Gaming

Intel Optane memory - The next Generation Memory Experience for Computing and Gaming

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It’s also going to be ten times faster than traditional SATA-based SSDs.

Random read performance at low queue depths is where conventional flash-based SSDs are at their weakest and where performance matters most. Full app load times decreased so narrowly that it would only be fair to chalk up as an anomaly. Its reliance on newer tech aside, Optane Memory as a whole sounds similar in principle to what Apple does with its Fusion Drive-equipped iMacs. One might expect the new memory technology to have been introduced on the a flagship consumer product that claims to be the fastest in the world at something, but Intel rolled it out on a caching drive called the Intel Optane Memory Series. Intel put the most advanced memory technology available today on a caching drive that will help make a hard drive competitive with a mainstream SATA SSD. Given Intel's history with elaborate solid-state caching layers, I was skeptical about the prospects of another take on the idea. This is why we are calling Optane Memory a game changer. The 375-gigabyte Optane drive on offer now costs US $1,520, about three times the price of an equivalent solid-state drive.

There appears to be no particularly good reason for this; it's simply that Intel was caught by conflicting demands. Not exactly a product that will grab headlines and excite the enthusiast community, but we are very excited that Intel Optane SSDs are coming out soon. On the other hand, it wants to maximize the potential demand for Optane. Intel Optane SSDs will be a consumer product that enthusiasts and gamers will be very excited about after seeing the early performance numbers on the Intel Optane Memory Series and the data center focused Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X Series.

One of the best ways to speed up load times for the OS and apps on your PC is to upgrade your storage to a solid-state drive. There’s already a 3D Xpoint storage drive available, taking advantage of the technology’s incredible speed, but that drive is 375GB and retails for $1,500.

While caching drives are nothing new--as we've had hard drives with small amounts of NAND flash built onto them (otherwise known as solid-state hybrid drives, or SSHDs) for years--NAND simply isn't fast enough to lift slow spinning drives out of a performance slump. In addition, starting in the second quarter of this year, PC manufacturers like HP*, Dell*, Lenovo*, Asus, Acer* and others will begin shipping both consumer and commercial products equipped with Intel Optane memory. More information can be found at Intel.com/optanememory.



But there is one difference between Optane and SRT that isn't technical, and that's compatibility. The reduction in level load times was a little more pronounced, at 6.5%.

Today, we are announcing the Intel Optane memory module (16GB and 32GB) for desktops with availability beginning April 24 for customers who want to install them in their Intel Optane memory ready motherboards or systems. Unlike SRT, which is restricted only to high-end chipsets, Optane is available to every Intel chipset—just as long as it's a Kaby Lake 200-series chipset paired with a Kaby Lake (7th generation Core) processor. Intel's first client Optane product uses a hardware-and-software stack that purports to cache a user's most commonly accessed files on a fast slice of PCIe 3.0 x4-connected storage. Intel’s Optane memory is the first instance of 3D Xpoint being used in consumer-level products. Optane Memory delivers 5-8x the random performance of flash-based SSDs at queue depths of 1-4. The passing lane, i.e., the NAND in this scenario, is definitely helpful, but at the end of the day, you're still driving on a one-lane highway. This means that a chipset such as the low-end B250 will let you create a hybrid out of Optane and a hard disk but won't let you create a damn-near identical hybrid out of a flash SSD and a hard disk.

Whether 3D XPoint, the mystery technology inside Optane, can live up to this promise is likely to depend on the performance it delivers as well as Intel’s ability to scale up manufacturing using new materials and build out the right market. On the one hand it wants to keep SRT as a "high-end" feature (even though it's the low-end and mid-range audience that stands to yield the most benefit from SRT). With 3D XPoint being so much faster, that one occasional passing lane now opens up to what amounts to Germany's crazy-fast Autobahn freeway system.

Meanwhile, a popular PC game of our choosing, Portal 2, displayed far less significant of a change in load times between having Optane disabled and enabled. And on the gripping hand, it wants to create an extra incentive to upgrade to Kaby Lake, as it would otherwise be only a minor refresh to Skylake; tying a supposedly desirable feature to Kaby Lake (and, eventually, newer CPUs and chipsets) helps create that incentive.

While these modules require the latest Intel chipset to function, the idea is to bring the speed of SSDs to higher-capacity HDDs without resorting to today’s common SSD boot drive solution. Using an SSHD is like driving on a one-lane highway with the occasional passing lane. It also sounds similar in principle to Intel's own Turbo Memory technology, a small slice of NAND on a riser card that did basically nothing for system performance when it debuted in some notebooks back in 2005. In fact, as the above graph illustrates, Optane Memory is essentially delivering full performance at QD3. Optane has some fundamental differences that promise a better showing this time around, however.

Last month Intel/Micron 3D Xpoint memory technology came out and it is the first new memory technology to hit the market in the last 30 years. However, given the high cost of these components, most folks are usually left deciding between high speed with an SSD or high capacity with a standard (significantly cheaper) spinning hard drive.

You’ll also need to be updated to Windows 10, so if you’ve been reluctant to upgrade, now would be a good time. An option that, mind you, many PC gamers can’t realistically afford and some can’t be bothered to configure.

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