Intel Optane Memory Arrives With Crazy Low Queue Depth Performance

Zarathustra[H]

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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.

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.
 

Cobra

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Is this faster than something like Samsung's Rapid mode which uses your system memory for caching? System ram should technically be faster than Optane unless the actual method it uses for caching is a lot more efficient.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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Is this faster than something like Samsung's Rapid mode which uses your system memory for caching? System ram should technically be faster than Optane unless the actual method it uses for caching is a lot more efficient.


I don't think we have that information yet. Optane certainly has some disadvantages compared to System RAM. For one, it sits on the other side of the comparably slow PCIe bus.

On the other hand it has one advantage. Any RAM based cache needs to be read from disk every reboot, as the content of RAM is lost. Optane is non-volatile, like Flash RAM, and thus does not need to rebuild he cache every reboot.


If you do some Googling though, you'll find that in performance testing Rapid Mode doesn't work all that well. In fact, if you have a Samsung SSD you are probably better off leaving Rapid Mode disabled and just letting the system handle its own RAM cache of its disks, which it actually does pretty well.

Looking at Intel's official performance numbers, they claim users are actually better off - performance wise - spending money on Optane over spending money on RAM. They show using Optane with 4GB of RAM performing better than no Optane with 8GB of RAM.

It is tough to imagine anyone building a system with only 4GB of RAM these days though, especially since the smallest DDR4 modules out there are 4GB and you'd want two of them in order to get dual channel performance.
 

JosiahBradley

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Sadly Optane memory caching won't work without a modern Intel CPU so I really don;t care for it now that I've seen what Zen can do especially when we get to the server market where it is guaranteed to be cheaper for the workloads I'm interested in. Now as a front end cache to S2D I'm greatly interested if it beats the write endurance for the price.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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Sadly Optane memory caching won't work without a modern Intel CPU so I really don;t care for it now that I've seen what Zen can do especially when we get to the server market where it is guaranteed to be cheaper for the workloads I'm interested in. Now as a front end cache to S2D I'm greatly interested if it beats the write endurance for the price.


You might like the story I just posted.
 

Cobra

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If you do some Googling though, you'll find that in performance testing Rapid Mode doesn't work all that well. In fact, if you have a Samsung SSD you are probably better off leaving Rapid Mode disabled and just letting the system handle its own RAM cache of its disks, which it actually does pretty well.

I've seen that, which is why I'm concerned. Rapid mode (and most ram disks) show awesome gains in benchmarks with almost no real-world benefit. Wondering if Optane will be much the same. Maybe the ability to retain memory when powered off will at least help boot times though.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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I've seen that, which is why I'm concerned. Rapid mode (and most ram disks) show awesome gains in benchmarks with almost no real-world benefit. Wondering if Optane will be much the same. Maybe the ability to retain memory when powered off will at least help boot times though.

Well, I think the reason for that is two-fold.

1.) RAM cache needs to be rebuilt and re-read from disk every fresh boot, so there is going to be an uptime delay until it reaches optimal performance

2.) You also may not see any improvement, because the OS itself is already caching your drive itself using RAM, so with Rapid mode is just replacing one RAM cache with another. The only area I see it improving drive performance is on systems with low amounts of system RAM, where the OS decides the RAM is better spent on other things, and doesn't cache the drive as much, and in those situations, while you may increase drive speed with Rapid Mode, it is going to come at the expense of other things that need RAM.

Optane - I don't think - really replaces RAM cache. The OS is still going to do it, and when it does and that RAM cache is built it will undoubtedly be faster than the Optane cache drive, due to not having to go over the PCIe bus among other things. Optane - however - will help you boot faster, which a RAM cache will never do, as it starts from zero on every boot, will be available to cache the drive immediately on boot up, will remember what to cache from previous instances, and not have to relearn every time you boot, and will - unless you have tons of RAM - likely be larger than your RAM cache, since it comes in 16 or 32GB sizes.

Intel did show a slide comparing a RAM starved system with Optane to a system that wasn't RAM starved without Optane, and noted that the system with less RAM and Optane was faster, suggesting that your money is better spent on Optane than on more RAM, but this seems to only be for systems with an strict budget restraint to me. IMHO, RAM cache and Optane stype cache are complementary and work with eachother, not one or the other.
 
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I've seen that, which is why I'm concerned. Rapid mode (and most ram disks) show awesome gains in benchmarks with almost no real-world benefit. Wondering if Optane will be much the same. Maybe the ability to retain memory when powered off will at least help boot times though.
You can get some crazy low boot times already. My Z270/7700K with NVMe boots a LOT faster than my old P67/SATA, and that was already pretty damn quick. POST is now longer than boot. I can probably push POST down somewhat but as it is, powering the machine on is maybe a total delay of 15 seconds.
 
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You can get some crazy low boot times already. My Z270/7700K with NVMe boots a LOT faster than my old P67/SATA, and that was already pretty damn quick. POST is now longer than boot. I can probably push POST down somewhat but as it is, powering the machine on is maybe a total delay of 15 seconds.

I have a normal SATA EVO SSD, POST screen is longer than actual boot, I could trim everything down in POST to minimal and cut that down a lot, however if I push the power button, by the time I situate my self in my chair it's already at the login screen so I really don't see the point. Boot times on new gear with a new OS are drastically shorter than those just a few generations ago. I will take anything I can get though, I am greedy.
 

Ididar

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You can get some crazy low boot times already. My Z270/7700K with NVMe boots a LOT faster than my old P67/SATA, and that was already pretty damn quick. POST is now longer than boot. I can probably push POST down somewhat but as it is, powering the machine on is maybe a total delay of 15 seconds.

The annoyance delay that I have is the network connection to my router. The machine is up and running in around the same 15 seconds but the network is sitting there taking its time trying to connect. Granted, it is only about 5 seconds extra but I often hit a launch command in that time and it can't find the network.
 

rgMekanic

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sooo instead of spending $200 on 32gb of RAM, Intel says I need to ditch my x99 build, build a Kaby setup, and spend $1500 on an SSD...


Dr.-Evil-Sarcastic-Right-In-Austin-Powers-Gifs.gif
 
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The annoyance delay that I have is the network connection to my router. The machine is up and running in around the same 15 seconds but the network is sitting there taking its time trying to connect. Granted, it is only about 5 seconds extra but I often hit a launch command in that time and it can't find the network.

WiFi? Or hard line? What kind of NIC? I have no connection lag with any of the Intel NICs I have.
 
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sooo instead of spending $200 on 32gb of RAM, Intel says I need to ditch my x99 build, build a Kaby setup, and spend $1500 on an SSD...


View attachment 20402

Where do you get $1500 from? Those are full sized Enterprise SSDs, not what they are talking about here, where the 32GB stick is MSRP of $77. Considering that is release prices of a new tech, that is quite cheap
 

thingi

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The annoyance delay that I have is the network connection to my router. The machine is up and running in around the same 15 seconds but the network is sitting there taking its time trying to connect. Granted, it is only about 5 seconds extra but I often hit a launch command in that time and it can't find the network.

Probably down to a shit DHCP server in your router (regardless of how expensive it is). Set a static IP on your router and in Windows and/or buy a cheap MikroTik Router that'll piss on anything x10 the price.
 

thingi

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Optane - however - will help you boot faster, which a RAM cache will never do

Whilst technically true we've already hit the law of diminishing returns with regards to boot speed like a few others have mentioned. Boot speed is now pretty much limited by device / device driver initialisation (both in POST and OS boot).

Also when SSD's first came on the scene at around the same time both Linux & Windows moved to a parallel boot process instead of it being serial in nature (where practically possible). Faster storage really won't help much.
 
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oROEchimaru

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Where do you get $1500 from? Those are full sized Enterprise SSDs, not what they are talking about here, where the 32GB stick is MSRP of $77. Considering that is release prices of a new tech, that is quite cheap

I think he meant "total build cost" to get a 77$ device. I had high hopes until I saw the limited compatibility. My guess is they didnt know what to do with all these 32gb models and needed to sell them off.
 

TheHobbyist

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The real question is which provides the better user experience:

- No Intel Optane Memory, SSD
- Intel Optane Memory, HDD
 

viscountalpha

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I don't think we have that information yet. Optane certainly has some disadvantages compared to System RAM. For one, it sits on the other side of the comparably slow PCIe bus.

On the other hand it has one advantage. Any RAM based cache needs to be read from disk every reboot, as the content of RAM is lost. Optane is non-volatile, like Flash RAM, and thus does not need to rebuild he cache every reboot.


If you do some Googling though, you'll find that in performance testing Rapid Mode doesn't work all that well. In fact, if you have a Samsung SSD you are probably better off leaving Rapid Mode disabled and just letting the system handle its own RAM cache of its disks, which it actually does pretty well.

Looking at Intel's official performance numbers, they claim users are actually better off - performance wise - spending money on Optane over spending money on RAM. They show using Optane with 4GB of RAM performing better than no Optane with 8GB of RAM.

It is tough to imagine anyone building a system with only 4GB of RAM these days though, especially since the smallest DDR4 modules out there are 4GB and you'd want two of them in order to get dual channel performance.


It makes me wonder when a virus is going to take advantage of that Non-volatile state.
 

chili dog

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I'm confused on what Intel is doing with this. When it was first announced I was under the impression it was going to be a future replacement for SSDs with higher speed and much higher endurance but was slower than RAM. Now it's just gonna be some cache? Very disappointing.
 

Wierdo

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I don't see where this fits exactly... for cheap builds it makes more sense to me to buy a small SSD as an OS drive + an HDD for data instead. On a higher end build just go all out SSD and be done with it.

Why pay for 32gb Optane instead of a 240gb SSD drive? Heck, you can get a 500+gb SSD for $100 easy if you keep an eye out for good deals.

The pricing is just not attractive in current market conditions, and then there's the added complexity to set it up, so not seeing it imho.
 

Semantics

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The real question is which provides the better user experience:

- No Intel Optane Memory, SSD
- Intel Optane Memory, HDD
I'm actually curious if it provides significant benefits if you already load most things off SSD, after all we can all be more enthusiast!
 
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I think he meant "total build cost" to get a 77$ device. I had high hopes until I saw the limited compatibility. My guess is they didnt know what to do with all these 32gb models and needed to sell them off.

No, it is very clearly worded, he meant 1,500 for the SSD, which is what the enterprise ones cost. They don't make 32GB M.2 server drives, these were made with intent, the chips can be placed in any form factor and on the enterprise level most people are assuming Intel will have trouble keeping stock, so no, probably not trying to get rid of supply. People have a VERY big misunderstanding on what this is meant for and it's use. On the desktop side it means little for those who are totally SSD, on the enterprise side it can mean A LOT, or on the OEM side where adding a $40-80 drive gives 90% of the performance of an SSD for most users at a huge savings.
 

SvenBent

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Is this faster than something like Samsung's Rapid mode which uses your system memory for caching? System ram should technically be faster than Optane unless the actual method it uses for caching is a lot more efficient.
Samsung rapid mode its pretty much snake oile. it make your system slower but cheats benchmarks.
The cønceps is no different from windows diskcache except now you have one more layer of added latancy, and its does not adhere to Read/Write request that are uncached (aka benchmarks) and thereby gives huge boost in benchmarks for no real world gain.

It's an old trick to ignored uncached red/write request. All the way back to DOS, Hyperdisk did the same to cheat in benchmarks.

-- edt --
and now i read the rest of your threads and feel like an idiot :D
 

Trimlock

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its fun to see a thread that's talking about a very niche, enterprise server part like it's a consumer part.

"Why would I get this??"
-average poster

"You wouldn't!"
-Intel
 

AndreRio

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is it like sdram? maybe they could use it as sdram and we would not need to reset nomore? will that be difficult to do?
 

AndreRio

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its fun to see a thread that's talking about a very niche, enterprise server part like it's a consumer part.

"Why would I get this??"
-average poster

"You wouldn't!"
-Intel
i heard that this new ram is only going to cost $50!!!
 
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its fun to see a thread that's talking about a very niche, enterprise server part like it's a consumer part.

"Why would I get this??"
-average poster

"You wouldn't!"
-Intel

This is actually meant to be used on the desktop, this is meant to be paired with a slower HDD and less ram with one of these drives in a M.2 slot, giving (what they claim) is closer to SSD performance at the normal HDD price range, and for most user loads that is probably true, though not for many people here. I see this more as an OEM option outside of SSDs. Will need cheaper/bigger drives before it really becomes a thing for most people here.

i heard that this new ram is only going to cost $50!!!

This is not a RAM stick, this is a SSD drive acting as a VERY large HDD cache, Intel was talking about it actually being built into HDDs in the future, much like hybrid drives are right now, how it will differ or performance gain we will have to wait and see. Does not really catch my eye, as everything I have is almost all SSD outside of bulk media storage for my Plex server.
 

jardows

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I'll wait to judge this technology until I see some real-world results, but the price to benefit ratio isn't looking too good.

For $77, I can get a 64GB caching drive for my slow hard drive, or for the same price I can get a 256GB SATA SSD that will boot OS and have all major applications loading directly from it.

Now, Optane may be a good "boost" for that data I will be pulling directly from the HDD, but is the performance going to be worth the added cost?
 

RealBeast

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I want a big Optane drive cheap, oh wait I have an i7-6700 running W7 with a couple of TB SSDs so I can't even use Optane like 90+% of the non-enterprise world, nevermind. Maybe my next build in 5 years.
 

CombatChrisNC

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A paid of these in RAID1 (or equivalent) acting as write-cache for a SAN with tray upon tray of 10k, 7200k, or even SSD. With higher random performance at low queue, it'll help it all.

Or a SAN stuffed full of nothing but Optane, I mean that's a possibility too.
 

daglesj

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The question to ask is...if this was needed why doesn't Seagate make 16/32GB SSHDs?
 

Canon

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Hopefully unlike RST, this tech will be transparent to the OS and not require extra software/ drivers... I haven't seen any details about this yet.

I expect this to show up in less expensive consumer laptops that insist on coming with those insanely slow 1TB 5400 RPM drives. That is a good use case. Lots of consumers want that 1TB of local storage because that laptop is their sole storage... Paying for a 1TB SSD doesn't make sense when it costs as much as the whole computer...

Actual benefit for people who are already rocking an SSD seems possible but I bet not noticeable day to day. Hopefully when more people get their hands on this tech, things will become clearer.
 
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A solution looking for a problem.

Read the link.

"Who is Intel targeting with Intel Optane Memory? Most of our readers are enthusiasts and Intel Optane Memory is not targeted to you. Most all of our readers are using NAND based SATA and PCIe SSDs already, so an Intel Optane Memory solution won’t give you much of a performance boost to make it worthwhile. Notice on the chart Intel believes that the hardcore enthusiast will be looking at using Intel Optane SSDs as Intel does have 3D XPoint based PCIe SSDs coming in the 2H of 2017"

The system they are comparing to (assuming they are real world gains) has less RAM and a slow HDD, vs upping RAM etc, if that is true, it makes a nice and cheap upgrade option for people, but again, this is not meant for most people here.

The question to ask is...if this was needed why doesn't Seagate make 16/32GB SSHDs?

A bit different from the NAND used on those vs this, along with higher speeds and low QD, which is where this new memory excels at, this is meant for low end computers and existing upgrades without paying for a $3-400 SSD, as everyone wants 1TB+ now in their computers, but when most people only pay $4-500 for the computer as a whole, that is not an option.
 
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