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When Intel’s 3D XPoint technology hit the market as Intel Optane Technology, it could do wonderful things to your computer, but only in the right configuration. To take advantage, you had to couple an Optane module to a SATA based drive. Not long after, larger drives big enough to hold your entire system became available, but only for the deeper-pocketed enthusiasts. Many users couple a smaller PCIe storage drive with the OS to a large mechanical Hard Drive for storage and Intel has now opened up Optane Acceleration to kick your data drive into high gear as well. Those smaller 32 and 64GB Optane modules can now be put to good use, and we’ll be looking at how this typical SSD+HDD configuration can benefit from Intel Optane Acceleration Technology.
The PC world is no stranger to ground-breaking, revolutionary memory announcements. They come along every so often promising order of magnitude increases in speed, capacity, and so on. The few that actually materialize into a physical product are often lackluster and fade from existence in days to months or are quickly eclipsed by incremental updates to existing technology. When 3D XPoint was announced a few years ago as this crazy new storage and memory hybrid, most of the industry shrugged it off as another cry of ‘wolf!’ since NAND based NVMe drives were just starting to take off.
A couple years back Intel and Micron introduced us to 3D XPoint memory at a press conference. The claims made about this new type of memory used in the Intel Optane SSD 900P 480GB were eye popping and frankly, at the time, almost unbelievable. By now Optane memory is old news and we all know that a small Optane memory chip can give platter drives new lives and increase system storage speed drastically. Optane is so new it literally exists in its own new category and was expected to run at approximately 3x the price of regular NVMe NAND flash drives. We are pleased to find that instead of the 3x price expected the Intel Optane SSD 900P 480GB comes in at a more consumer friendly $0.86 per GB of storage closer to 2x the price of NVMe drives.
Sometime back Crucial came out with a new BX300 lineup of drives and while TLC (Triple Level Cell) has been raging through the market Crucial holds the line with the BX300 lineup and moved back to MLC (Multi-Level Cell) a more durable more expensive type of flash. Not only did they return to MLC for the BX300 they chose 3D Flash! Most techies know TLC flash stores 3 Bits of information per cell making it less expensive but each cell is used more so it has a shorter lifespan than MLC which stores 2 Bits of Information per cell and is a little more expensive than TLC. Now SLC is Single Level Cell and stores 1 Bit of information per cell and is mostly reserved for Enterprise class drives hence so expensive you have to sell the family cow to afford it.
If you’ve been following along with all of the new Intel platforms this year like Z370 and X299, you’ve probably heard buzzwords about support for Intel Optane Memory Technology, but what does that mean exactly? It means a lot of big words layered over some existing technologies and married with a little bit of new Intel magic. In English? Well, it means you can skip the big, expensive new NVMe drive, and use a slower but much larger hard drive or solid state drive you already have, and let Intel Optane make it much faster and more responsive.
The Toshiba OCZ TR200 480GB TLC is a BiCS flash DRAMless SSD and it’s the first DRAMless SSD to cross the test bench here at the lab. While the box says Toshiba OCZ TR200 Toshiba says OCZ no longer exists as a standalone brand and moving forward their SSD’s will be sold under the Toshiba name but that OCZ will be a subcategory of Toshiba products. Toshiba goes on to say that their SSD’s will still maintain the OCZ essence and target enthusiasts and gamers. Let’s face it we saw OCZ floundering and if it weren’t for the acquisition by Toshiba the brand would be extinct. We still have a set of OCZ Reapers around the Lab you would have to pry from our cold dead hands but Toshiba is doing a good job of carrying the flag forward and in a lot of ways improving on what we came to expect from OCZ.
Kingston has had a wide variety of storage devices but until now they haven’t ventured into the NVME market. With the Kingston KC1000 M.2 2280 480GB NVMe MLC Internal Solid State Drive that has changed and Kingston has dipped their proverbial storage foot into the NVME arena. We’ve seen PCIe SATA, and M.2 devices from Kingston and many of them were impressive like the Kingston Savage PCIe they released a couple of years ago.