Intel Demos 3D XPoint Platform – Reveals Real Life Benchmarks of its Optane Based SSDs Against NAND Counterparts

Usman Pirzada
Posted Apr 21, 2016
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Intel recently did a demo of its upcoming 3D XPoint platform, specifically Optane based SSDs. While the company has previously revealed numbers regarding the new technology, this is the first time that a live demo using a practical every-day application has been performed. It is worth noting here that as we move towards storage technology that is blazing fast, the interface acting as the middleman is quickly becoming a bottleneck.

Intel reveals real life benchmarks of its Optane based SSDs

The event in question was Intel’s “Nonvolatile Storage Solutions (Non-Volatile Memory Solution Group) ” presented by Vice President of Intel China, Yang Xu (Ian Yang). In the live demo, Intel demonstrated that an SSD to SSD transfer peaked out at approximately 1.73 GB/s – which is already pretty damn fast. An Optane to Optane based storage transfer peaked out at roughly 2.09 GB/s, not because of lack of speed on the SSD’s part but rather due to the bottleneck constraints of the interface being used for the transfer. As the test progressed however, the transfer rate of the NAND based SSD fell down to 284 MB/s while as the Optane based SSD more or less maintained its strong momentum. Images of the benchmarks are given below:

Optane based memory devices aren’t just for storage, they will be available in the DIMM format as well. In fact, they will be available for everything from Datacentres to Ultrabooks and while the mainstream niche will most probably be interested in them as a storage memory standard, their versatility enables them to be used in the DIMM format as well for Xeons. The Optane SSD that was demoed was a PCIe based device that was pit against an Intel P3700 SSD (which is the best offering in conventional SSD storage Intel has right now).

Intel to Provide Free Remote Access to Cloud-Based Systems Featuring Its Optane SSDs

Intel has previously talked about its 3D XPoint memory and Optane based SSDs – both of which aim to be part of its framework in the future. The 3D XPoint memory technology has 1000x the endurance of NAND flash and is 10 times denser and in some cases upto 1000x faster as well. The 3D XPoint memory will be available in market during next year and will revolutionize the tech industry with the latest 3D XPoint based Optane SSDs and DIMMs.

  • The Optane SSD was able to achieve 7.2x times more IOPS at low queue depth and upto 5.21 times the IOPs of conventional SSDs at high queue depths. Optane SSDs also provide 8.11x times lower latency than conventional NAND solutions.

  • An Optane Technology based SSD has 10x times the density of conventional SSD drives.

  • The marketing material also claims it is 1000x faster than the competition available on the market but it isn’t clear to what exactly they are referring to.

  • Optane SSDs will have 1000x the endurance – which, if true, should mean the device has virtually unlimited life span for practical purposes.

All Optane based devices will feature a cross point array structure, which consists of perpendicular connectors connecting around 128 Billion memory cells (16 Gigabytes per chip).  This “3D” method is the reason why Optane based devices have 10x times the density of conventional solutions. Like DRAM, Optane memory is stackable in nature. One of the biggest changes in this technology however is that it eliminates the need for transistors – accessing the memory cells by varying the voltage sent to the particular sector. Basically, using the bulk of the material itself.

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