AnandTech Storage Bench - Heavy

Our Heavy storage benchmark is proportionally more write-heavy than The Destroyer, but much shorter overall. The total writes in the Heavy test aren't enough to fill the drive, so performance never drops down to steady state. This test is far more representative of a power user's day to day usage, and is heavily influenced by the drive's peak performance. The Heavy workload test details can be found here. This test is run twice, once on a freshly erased drive and once after filling the drive with sequential writes.

ATSB - Heavy (Data Rate)

On the Heavy test, the caching unambiguously helps the Intel Optane Memory H10, bringing its average data rate up into the range of decent TLC-based NVMe SSDs, when the test is run on an empty drive. The full-drive performance is still better with the cache than without, but ultimately the post-SLC behavior of the QLC NAND cannot be hidden by the Optane. None of the TLC-based drives slow down when full as much as the QLC drives do.

ATSB - Heavy (Average Latency)ATSB - Heavy (99th Percentile Latency)

The average and 99th percentile latency scores for the H10 are competitive with TLC drives only when the test is run on an empty drive. When the Heavy test is run on a full drive with a full SLC cache and cold Optane cache, latency is worse than even the hard drive with an Optane cache. The average latency for the H10 in the full-drive case is still substantially better than using the QLC portion alone, but the Optane cache doesn't help the 99th percentile latency at all.

ATSB - Heavy (Average Read Latency)ATSB - Heavy (Average Write Latency)

Average read latencies from the H10 are significantly worse when the Heavy test is run on a full drive, but it's still slightly better than the SATA SSD. The average write latencies are where the QLC stands out, with a full H10 scoring worse than the hard drive, and with the Optane caching disabled write latency is ten times higher than for a TLC SSD.

ATSB - Heavy (99th Percentile Read Latency)ATSB - Heavy (99th Percentile Write Latency)

The 99th percentile read latency of the H10 with Optane caching off is a serious problem during the full-drive test run, but using the Optane cache brings read QoS back into the decent range for SSDs. The 99th percentile write latency is bad without the Optane cache and worse with it.

AnandTech Storage Bench - The Destroyer AnandTech Storage Bench - Light
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  • Valantar - Tuesday, April 23, 2019 - link

    "Why hamper it with a slower bus?": cost. This is a low-end product, not a high-end one. The 970 EVO can at best be called "midrange" (though it keeps up with the high end for performance in a lot of cases). Intel doesn't yet have a monolithic controller that can work with both NAND and Optane, so this is (as the review clearly states) two devices on one PCB. The use case is making a cheap but fast OEM drive, where caching to the Optane part _can_ result in noticeable performance increases for everyday consumer workloads, but is unlikely to matter in any kind of stress test. The problem is that adding Optane drives up prices, meaning that this doesn't compete against QLC drives (which it would beat in terms of user experience) but also TLC drives which would likely be faster in all but the most cache-friendly, bursty workloads.

    I see this kind of concept as the "killer app" for Optane outside of datacenters and high-end workstations, but this implementation is nonsense due to the lack of a suitable controller. If the drive had a single controller with an x4 interface, replaced the DRAM buffer with a sizeable Optane cache, and came in QLC-like capacities, it would be _amazing_. Great capacity, great low-QD speeds (for anything cached), great price. As it stands, it's ... meh.
    Reply
  • cb88 - Friday, May 17, 2019 - link

    Therein lies the BS... Optane cannot compete as a low end product as it is too expensive.. so they should have settled for being the best premium product with 4x PCIe... probably even maxing out PCIe 4.0 easily once it launches. Reply
  • CheapSushi - Wednesday, April 24, 2019 - link

    I think you're mixing up why it would be faster. The lanes are the easier part. It's inherently faster. But you can't magically make x2 PCIe lanes push more bandwidth than x4 PCIe lanes on the same standard (3.0 for example). Reply
  • twotwotwo - Monday, April 22, 2019 - link

    Prices not announced, so they can still make it cheaper.

    Seems like a tricky situation unless it's priced way below anything that performs similarly though. Faster options on one side and really cheap drives that are plenty for mainstream use on the other.
    Reply
  • CaedenV - Monday, April 22, 2019 - link

    lol cheaper? All of the parts of a traditional SSD, *plus* all of the added R&D, parts, and software for the Optane half of the drive?
    I will be impressed if this is only 2x the price of a Sammy... and still slower.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, April 22, 2019 - link

    Ultimately, to scale this I think Intel is going to have to add an on card PCIe switch. With the company currently dominating the market setting prices to fleece enterprise customers, I suspect that means they'll need to design something in house. PCIe4 will help some, but normal drives will get faster too. Reply
  • kpb321 - Monday, April 22, 2019 - link

    I don't think that would end up working out well. As the article mentions PCI-E switches tend to be power hungry which wouldn't work well and would add yet another part to the drive and push the BOM up even higher. For this to work you'd need to deliver TLC level performance or better but at a lower cost. Ultimately the only way I can see that working would be moving to a single integrated controller. From a cost perspective eliminating the DRAM buffer by using a combination of the Optane memory and HBM should probably work. This would probably push it into a largely or completely hardware managed solution and would improve compatibility and eliminate the issues with the PCI-E bifrication and bottlenecks. Reply
  • ksec - Monday, April 22, 2019 - link

    Yes, I think we will need a Single Controller to see its true potential and if it has a market fit.

    Cause right now I am not seeing any real benefits or advantage of using this compared to decent M.2 SSD.
    Reply
  • Kevin G - Monday, April 22, 2019 - link

    What Intel needs to do for this to really take off is to have a combo NAND + Optane controller capable of handling both types natively. This would eliminate the need for a PCIe switch and free up board space on the small M.2 sticks. A win-win scenario if Intel puts forward the development investment. Reply
  • e1jones - Monday, April 22, 2019 - link

    A solution for something in search of a problem. And, typical Intel, clearly incompatible with a lot of modern systems, much less older systems. Why do they keep trying to limit the usability of Optane!?

    In a world where each half was actually accessible, it might be useful for ZFS/NAS apps, where the Optane could be the log or cache and the QLC could be a WORM storage tier.
    Reply

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