Introduction, Specifications, and Requirements

This stuff is very, very quick.


Finally! Optane Memory sitting in our lab! Sure, it’s not the mighty P4800X we remotely tested over the past month, but this is right here, sitting on my desk. It’s shipping, too, meaning it could be sitting on your desk (or more importantly, in your PC) in just a matter of days.

The big deal about Optane is that it uses XPoint Memory, which has fast-as-lightning (faster, actually) response times of less than 10 microseconds. Compare this to the fastest modern NAND flash at ~90 microseconds, and the differences are going to add up fast. What’s wonderful about these response times is that they still hold true even when scaling an Optane product all the way down to just one or two dies of storage capacity. When you consider that managing fewer dies means less work for the controller, we can see latencies fall even further in some cases (as we will see later).


No real surprises here. We had these specs a bit earlier but things appear to have been de-rated a bit, mostly in the interest of keeping power consumption at lower levels from the looks of it.


Optane Memory requires Intel 7th generation hardware. We suspect you might be able to get away with an older CPU, but the motherboard is a must since it requires BIOS-level support to properly boot a system overlaying Optane Memory over other storage devices.

Most of you may not remember this, but 8 years ago I reviewed the DDRdrive. It consisted of 4GB of DRAM on a PCB. Despite being connected to the system via a single PCIe 2.0 x1 lane, its QD=1 performance exceeding 100,000 IOPS trounced the competition (and still does today actually). While the limited capacity meant it was useless to store your OS, the product worked itself into many enterprise applications as a very fast storage cache device. The limited capacity, price, and lack of an ability to easily use it as a storage cache prevented this sort of thing from catching on for consumer PC's, but one could dream (back then). Now it is basically a reality, as Optane Memory can actually surpass the DDRdrive! Only took 8 years for that particular pipe dream to come true.

Ok, enough reminiscing. Let's get into the review of Optane Memory!

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