Final Thoughts & Conclusion
We’ve been impressed with Intel’s Optane Memory technology from our very first experience with it nearly two years ago, and it continues to get better and better. Taking advantage of its prowess in chewing through a steady stream of small files with almost zero latency makes it ideal as a cache ahead of a much larger and cheaper storage volume comprised of NAND flash that excels most when bombarded by many concurrent strings of sequential commands. Until today, this application was almost exclusive to the realm of desktops and desktop replacements due to the need for multiple devices. Today’s launch of the Intel Optane H10 with Solid State Storage gives highly portable users the ability to enjoy both the acceleration of Optane and the large storage spaces of traditional (and affordable) NAND based storage.
While the wall of numbers in the testing section of this review might not mean much to you, I want to point out a few things. The first is not unique to this particular product, but to Optane in general. Most of the activity your drive will see is low queue depth. In English, that means that about any solid state drive is so fast these days that the normal activity of ‘read this file, read that file, wait a bit, read another file, write a file, wait’ and so on happen so fast that its very rare for more than one command to reach the drive at any given time, and are completed long before the next command comes in 99%+ of the time. Optane can handle tens to hundreds of thousands of these every second. This normal day to day activity is exactly what it reigns supreme doing. In contrast, synthetic benchmarks queue up from 8 to 32 commands and sends them to the drive all at once and keep the flood gates open.
Traditional NAND flash is comprised of a controller and multiple channels of storage. It does best when it has multiple things to do at once since it can distribute that pile of commands across its multiple slow channels. In aggregate, you get very high throughput at high queue depths, but it doesn’t do very well with only a single command. This looks incredible on benchmarks, but those impressive speeds listed on the box really don’t translate to real-world use for nearly all users. We see this performance advantage when opening applications, working with files and just in general responsiveness of the entire system. Windows is always interacting with small files in the background, and Optane just makes the entire system “feel” more responsive and faster. That’s a bit hard to convey in benchmarks, but you can certainly tell the difference once you get your hands on a system with Optane Memory Technology enabled and running. We can really see this with the multitasking tests, those small file reads, like opening a spreadsheet, can squeeze in with minimal impact from other ongoing tasks like copying a large file in the background.
Look for Intel's Optane H10 + Solid State Storage in products from your favorite vendors starting at around $750 soon.
Great Job Intel!