Monday, March 27th 2017

Intel's First Client Optane Product is a Cache SSD

Intel's first consumer (client) SSD based on its revolutionary new 3D Xpoint memory is an Optane branded cache SSD that improves the performance of slower local storage, such as hard drives, or even slower NAND flash based SSDs. On machines with larger hard drives, Intel claims that a 3D Xpoint based cache SSD could halve booting times, improve overall system performance by 28 percent, and lower game level load times by up to 65 percent. As a cache-SSD, it's also designed to be affordable, and that's because it's local storage is 16 GB or 32 GB.

The target consumer is one that which is transitioning from hard drives to SSDs, and is happy with a noticeable performance boost, as long as they don't lose the immense capacities of their HDDs. It also targets gamers with SSDs that are running out of space for multiple >50 GB games, so they could start installing some of those games on their larger/slower HDDs and get reasonably improved performance. As with all SSD caching technologies from Intel in the past, such as the ReadyBoost and Smart Response, Optane cache SSDs juggle "hot data" (frequently accessed data) in and out of their user-space from the host storage. On the software side of things, Intel Rapid Storage Technology 15.5 and later handles the caching tasks.
The Optane cache SSD is a single-sided M.2-2280 drive with PCI-Express 3.0 x2 host interface, and takes advantage of the NVMe protocol. The drives offer sequential speeds of up to 1200 MB/s reads, with up to 280 MB/s writes, and 4K random access performance of up to 300,000 IOPS reads, with up to 70,000 IOPS writes. What Optane brings to the table is a gargantuan command queue depth, and an endurance rating of 100 GB writes per day (which is huge for a 16 or 32 GB drive, given that it's over 6 DWPD for the 16 GB variant.
Source: TechReport
Add your own comment

41 Comments on Intel's First Client Optane Product is a Cache SSD

#26
RejZoR
PrimoCache can accelerate writes if you change the cache flushing mode so it uses RAM as huge buffer. Only recommended for systems with UPS units or laptops though. But realistically, writes are done sequentially in 90% of cases. It's the reads that are always all over the place as programs fetch the data from various sources.
Posted on Reply
#27
Fx
I can't think of any practical use case where I could take advantage of this technology and quite sure that if I ever do, that it wont be for anything less than 2-3 years.
Posted on Reply
#28
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
RejZoR
PrimoCache can accelerate writes if you change the cache flushing mode so it uses RAM as huge buffer. Only recommended for systems with UPS units or laptops though. But realistically, writes are done sequentially in 90% of cases. It's the reads that are always all over the place as programs fetch the data from various sources.
I don't like RAM cache, for obvious reasons. It can't cache writes using the SSD, so it isn't as useful as Smart Response, IMO. Primocache keeps claiming they are going to support SSD write caching in version 3.0, but it's been about a year since they said that and there hasn't been any work on it since...

PrimoCache is great if you are on an AMD system and can't use Smart Response, but if you are on Intel Smart Response work better. It seems this cache SSD is just an extension of Smart Response, but they made it worse by limiting the size to 16/32GB. If Intel would just remove the size limit of Smart Response, it'd be perfect.
Posted on Reply
#29
RejZoR
I've had Smart Response and it was garbage. Clumsy and limited. And all the fiddling with the RAID driver and the program, total fail. PrimoCache was much better. Besides, why do you need to cache writes? 99% of consumers will never need that.
Posted on Reply
#30
mcraygsx
RejZoR
I've had Smart Response and it was garbage. Clumsy and limited. And all the fiddling with the RAID driver and the program, total fail. PrimoCache was much better. Besides, why do you need to cache writes? 99% of consumers will never need that.
Most of the consumers will not upgrade to Kabylake+ system simple for cache. While for rest of the enthusiasts a fast NVME is more then enough.

Posted on Reply
#31
RejZoR
Oh my god, you people actually really don't seem to understand anything about SSD caching even though everyone keep talking things about it.

Let me tell this one more time, very sloooooowly even though it's already in a written form...

You have a shite system, you buy a cheapo SSD, you pair it into hybrid array with the existing HDD and you get tremendous boost for the cheap without sacrificing any capacity. That's literally all there is to it. Only application I can see for this Optane thing is if you have 10TB HDD (because you just need the raw capacity and there isn't even any SSD in existence with such capacity) and you want sort of performance of a SSD. Only problem here is that this "new" Intel's "solution" only has 32GB max which is just garbage for drive of 10TB because it'll constantly shuffling data back and forth in the cache, totally negating the whole point of the cache (because you'll have crap hit ratio). Ergo, this tech is absolutely pointless even if it works at the speed of light.

People with no money will stay on HDD only
People with money will go to SSD only
People that need capacity (but don't want to RAID SSD's) with almost the speed of SSD will go with hybrid array, but not Optane because of crap cache capacity

Is there really anything more than needs to be said? This thing is totally pointless and serves absolutely no purpose and fills absolutely nothing in the market, because there isn't even any gap for it. Good old SSD caching systems filled and dominated that gap ages ago. And even with that people insist on using pointless retarded SSD boot drives and separate HDD as crap stand alone data storage unit (where hybrid would benefit them EVERYWHERE). But like this thread proved, people just don't understand it which is why no one used it. I did and it was great. I went to full SSD so the system wasn't clicking through the night as I sleep next to the system. And because I could.
Posted on Reply
#32
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
RejZoR
I've had Smart Response and it was garbage. Clumsy and limited. And all the fiddling with the RAID driver and the program, total fail. PrimoCache was much better. Besides, why do you need to cache writes? 99% of consumers will never need that.
I write to my storage drive all the time. It's part of having a large storage drive, I write large files to it.

And I've never had a problem with Smart Response, it was easy to set up and the only limitation was the size of the cache. I'm not sure what you are complaining about with fiddling with the driver and program. It was easier to setup up than Primocache was.
Posted on Reply
#33
RejZoR
You can't just switch from AHCI to RAID , system won't boot and Intel software wasn't recognizing the drive...
Posted on Reply
#34
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
RejZoR
You can't just switch from AHCI to RAID , system won't boot and Intel software wasn't recognizing the drive...
Set the SATA controller to RAID before you install Windows or spend the 60 seconds applying the fix in Windows that lets you switch from AHCI to RAID. Both extremely easy solutions.
Posted on Reply
#35
Blueberries
I fail to see why a (smart) buyer would choose this over a 960 EVO.
Posted on Reply
#36
RejZoR
newtekie1
Set the SATA controller to RAID before you install Windows or spend the 60 seconds applying the fix in Windows that lets you switch from AHCI to RAID. Both extremely easy solutions.
Because you always happen to have an empty system when adding a NEW cache device to an EXISTING system, right? As for the "fix", if you don't know about it, dealing with boot BSOD isn't exactly something we just know how to deal with. It's a whole procedure.
Posted on Reply
#37
geon2k2
RejZoR
People with no money will stay on HDD only
People with money will go to SSD only
People that need capacity (but don't want to RAID SSD's) with almost the speed of SSD will go with hybrid array, but not Optane because of crap cache capacity

Is there really anything more than needs to be said? This thing is totally pointless and serves absolutely no purpose and fills absolutely nothing in the market, because there isn't even any gap for it. Good old SSD caching systems filled and dominated that gap ages ago. And even with that people insist on using pointless retarded SSD boot drives and separate HDD as crap stand alone data storage unit (where hybrid would benefit them EVERYWHERE). But like this thread proved, people just don't understand it which is why no one used it. I did and it was great. I went to full SSD so the system wasn't clicking through the night as I sleep next to the system. And because I could.
I concur with this.

You don't even need that much money nowadays to go full SSD, for OS, applications.
500GB-ish SSD can be had for lower than 150$, I see even in 130$ range and any SSD will run in circles around HDD.

This cache drive is expensive at 77$, I'd rather put 50$ more for full SSD.
If you are really budget constricted, and really want some caching you could buy for 30$ 60GB regular SSD and use Intel SRT for the more or less the same result, probably slightly lower speed when full cache is hit, but better overall performance due to double the cache size, which means there is a much greater chance for something to be found in the cache.

And if 500GB is not enough for you, the cache cannot help you in any way, as you probably deal with volumes which are far bigger than 16 or 32 GB of cache.
Posted on Reply
#38
RejZoR
It depends. I have 128GB in my laptop for years. And before that, I had SSD in a netbook. That was back when SSD was kinda unheard of in a notebook. I don't store much stuff on them anyway so it's fine. But on my main system, I wanted top speed for everything, no compromises. Which is why I got myself Samsung 850 Pro 2TB. It was really the only way and despite being super expensive, I don't regret it. 2TB has been perfect capacity for me for years now and I expect it to serve me well for next several years.

77€ for SSD+software is not that expensive considering the benefits (speed while keeping same capacity). You'll never get combined capacity at SSD performance no matter what you do. It's just not possible for that money. And since cache SSD's are 75% of time doing reads, even cheapest ones should last you years.
Posted on Reply
#39
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
RejZoR
Because you always happen to have an empty system when adding a NEW cache device to an EXISTING system, right? As for the "fix", if you don't know about it, dealing with boot BSOD isn't exactly something we just know how to deal with. It's a whole procedure.
If google is too hard to use, you shouldn't be tinkering with computers. It isn't a whole procedure. If you do it manually, you have to change a whole one entry in the registry. If you google it, there are reg file available that makes the change for you with a simple double click.

Of course, with Windows 10 you don't have to do anything. It actually adjusts itself and boots just fine in my experience.
Posted on Reply
#40
Parn
The same old school Smart Response with mSATA SSDs boosting the performance of conventional HDDs.
Posted on Reply
#41
TheGuruStud
Caching that isn't fast like ram is stupid and a waste of money.

And RST? What a joke. That's nothing but a massive mem leak for me (regardless of driver ver).
Posted on Reply
Add your own comment