The Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X (375GB) Review: Testing 3D XPoint Performanceby Billy Tallis on April 20, 2017 12:00 PM EST
Final Words: Is 3D XPoint Ready?
The Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X is a very high-performing enterprise SSD, but more importantly it is the first shipping product using Intel's 3D XPoint memory technology. After a year and a half of talking up 3D XPoint, Intel has finally shipped something. The P4800X proves that 3D XPoint memory is real and that it really works. The P4800X is just a first-generation product, but it's more than sufficient to establish 3D XPoint memory as a serious contender in the storage market.
If your workload matches its strengths, the P4800X offers performance that cannot currently be provided by any other storage product. This means high throughput random access, as well as very strict latency requirements - the results Optane achieves for it's quality of service for latency on both reads and writes, especially in heavy environments with a mixed read/write workload, is a significant margin ahead of anything available on the market.
The Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X is not the fastest SSD ever on every single test. It's based on a revolutionary technology, but no matter how high expectations were, very rarely does a first-generation product take over the world unless it becomes ubiquitous and cheap on day one. The Optane SSD is ultimately an expensive niche product. If you don't need high throughput random access with the strictest latency requirements, the Optane SSD DC P4800X may not be the best choice. It is very expensive compared to most flash-based SSDs.
With the Optane SSD and 3D XPoint memory now clearly established as useful and usable, the big question is how broad its appeal will be. The originally announcements around Optane promised a lot, and this initial product delivers a few of those metrics, so to some extent, the P4800X may have to grow its own market and reteach partners what Optane is capable of today. Working with developers and partners is going to be key here - they have to perform outreach and entice software developers to write applications that rely on extremely fast storage. That being said, there are plenty of market segments already that can never get enough storage performance, so anything above what is available in the market today will be more than welcome.
There's still much more we would like to know about the Optane SSD and the 3D XPoint memory it contains. Since our testing was remote, we have not yet even had the chance to look under the drives's heatsink, or measure the power efficiency of the Optane SSD and compare it against other SSDs. We are awaiting an opportunity to get a drive in hand, and expect some of the secrets under the hood to be exposed in due course as drives filter through the ecosystem.