Whole-Drive Fill

This test starts with a freshly-erased drive and fills it with 128kB sequential writes at queue depth 32, recording the write speed for each 1GB segment. This test is not representative of any ordinary client/consumer usage pattern, but it does allow us to observe transitions in the drive's behavior as it fills up. This can allow us to estimate the size of any SLC write cache, and get a sense for how much performance remains on the rare occasions where real-world usage keeps writing data after filling the cache.

During a sustained write, the Optane cache on the Intel Optane Memory H10 doesn't change the situation much from how the QLC-only Intel 660p behaves—the Optane cache on its own is only good for about 350MB/s. The SLC write cache on the NAND side is a more important factor that helps sustain high write speed far beyond the 32GB size of the Optane cache. But eventually, all the caches fill up and the very slow write speed of raw QLC takes over.

Sustained 128kB Sequential Write (Power Efficiency)
Average Throughput for last 16 GB Overall Average Throughput

The overall average write speed when completely filling the Optane Memory H10 is unsurprisingly lower than any of the other drives in this batch. The 1TB Intel 660p was already a bit slower than a 7200RPM hard drive, and our H10 sample has half as much QLC to work with.

Working Set Size

The Optane cache on the H10 is 32GB, but when testing random reads it appears to only be good for about 6-8GB working sets before the cache starts thrashing and performance drops down to roughly what a QLC-only drive can offer. It appears that Intel may be reserving a large portion of the Optane cache to serve as a write buffer, and this might be detrimental to the most read-intensive workloads.

Application Benchmarks: SYSmark 2018 & PCMark 10 AnandTech Storage Bench - The Destroyer
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  • Flunk - Monday, April 22, 2019 - link

    This sounded interesting until I read software solution and split bandwidth. Intel seems to be really intent upon forcing Optane into products regardless if they make sense or not.

    Maybe it would have made sense with SSDs at the price points they were this time last year, but now it just seems like pointless exercise.
    Reply
  • PeachNCream - Monday, April 22, 2019 - link

    Who knew Optane would end up acting as a bandage fix for QLC's garbage endurance? I suppose its better than nothing, but 0.16 DWPD is terrible. The 512GB model would barely make it to 24 months in a laptop without making significant configuration changes (caching the browser to RAM, disabling the swap file entirely, etc.) Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Monday, April 22, 2019 - link

    The H10 is a mediocre product, but endurance claims are overblown.

    Even if the rated lifespan is a total of 35TB, you'd be perfectly fine. The 512GB H10 is rated for 150TB.

    The amount of users that would even reach 20TB in 5 years are in the minority. When I was actively using the system, my X25-M registered less than 5TB in 2 years.
    Reply
  • PeachNCream - Monday, April 22, 2019 - link

    Your usage is extremely light. Endurance is a real-world problem. I've already dealt with it a couple of times with MLC SSDs. Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Monday, April 22, 2019 - link

    SSDs are over 50% of the storage sold in notebooks. It's firmly reaching mainstream there.

    I would say instead I think most of *your* customers are too demanding. Vast majority of the folks would use less than me.

    The market agrees too, which is why we went from MLC to TLC, and now we have QLCs coming.

    Perhaps you are confusing write-endurance with physical stress endurance, or even natural MTBF related endurance.
    Reply
  • PeachNCream - Monday, April 22, 2019 - link

    I haven't touched on any usage but my own so far. The drives' own software identified the problems so if there is confusion about failures, that's in the domain of the OEM. (Note, those drives don't fail gracefully either so that data can be recovered. It's a pretty ugly end to reach.) As for the move from MLC to TLC and now QLC -- thats driven by cost sensitivity for given capacities and ignores endurance to a great extent. Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Monday, April 22, 2019 - link

    I get the paranoia. The world does that to you. You unconsciously become paranoid in everything.

    However, for most folks endurance is not a problem. The circuit in the SSD will likely fail of natural causes before write endurance is reached. Everything dies. But people are just excessively worried about NAND SSD write endurance because its a fixed metric.

    It's like knowing the date of your death.
    Reply
  • PeachNCream - Friday, May 03, 2019 - link

    That's not really a paranoia thing. You're attempt to bait someone into an argument where you can then toss out insults is silly. Reply
  • SaberKOG91 - Monday, April 22, 2019 - link

    That's a naive argument. Most SSDs of 250GB or larger are rated for at least 100TBW on a 3 year warranty. 75TBW on a 5 year warranty is an insult.

    I think you underestimate how much demand the average user makes of their system. Especially when you have things like anti-virus and web browsers making lots of little writes in the background, all the time.

    The market is going from TLC to QLC because of density, not reliability. We had all the same reliability issues going from MLC to TLC and from SLC to MLC. It took years for each transition for manufacturers to reach the same durability level as the previous technology, all while seeing the previous generation continuing to improve even further. Moving to denser tech means smaller dies for the same capacity or higher capacity for unit area which is good for everyone. But these drives don't even look to have 0.20DWPD or 5 year warranty of other QLC Flash products.

    I am a light user who doesn't have a lot of photos or video and this laptop has already seen 1.3TBW in only 3 months. My work desktop has over 20TBW from the last 5 years. My home desktop where I compile software has over 12TBW in the first year. My gaming PC has 27TBW on a 5 year old drive. So while I might agree that 75TBW seems like a lot, If I were to simplify my life down to one machine, I'd easily hit 20TBW a year or 8TBW a year even without the compile machine.

    That all said, you're still ignoring that many Micron and Samsung drives have been shown to go way beyond their rated lifespan whereas Optane has such horrible lifespan at these densities that reviewers destroyed the drives just benchmarking them. Since the Optane is acting as a persistent cache, what happens to these drives when the Optane dies? At the very least performance will tank. At the worst the drive is hosed.
    Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Monday, April 22, 2019 - link

    Something is very wrong with your drive or you are not really a "light user".

    1300GB in 3 months equals to 14GB write per day. That means if you use your computer 7 hours a day you'd be using 2GB/s hour. The computer I had the SSD on I used it for 8-12 hours every day for the two years and it was a gaming PC and a primary one at that.

    Perhaps the X25-M drive I had is particularly good at this aspect, but the differences seem too much.

    Anyways, moving to denser cells just mean consumer level workloads do not need the write endurance MLC needs and lower prices are preferred.

    "Optane has such horrible lifespan at these densities that reviewers destroyed the drives just benchmarking them."

    Maybe you are referring to the few faulty units in the beginning? Any devices can fail in the first 30 days. That's completely unrelated to *write endurance*. The first gen modules are rated for 190TBW. If they played around for a year(which is unrealistic since its for a benchmark), they would have been using 500GB/s day. Maybe you want to verify your claims yourself.
    Reply

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