Random Read Performance

Our first test of random read performance uses very short bursts of operations issued one at a time with no queuing. The drives are given enough idle time between bursts to yield an overall duty cycle of 20%, so thermal throttling is impossible. Each burst consists of a total of 32MB of 4kB random reads, from a 16GB span of the disk. The total data read is 1GB.

Burst 4kB Random Read (Queue Depth 1)

Like the Optane Memory M.2, the Optane SSD 800p has extremely high random read performance even at QD1. The M.2 drives even have a substantial lead over the much larger and more power-hungry 900p and its enterprise counterpart P4800X. Even the best flash-based SSDs are almost an order of magnitude slower.

Our sustained random read performance is similar to the random read test from our 2015 test suite: queue depths from 1 to 32 are tested, and the average performance and power efficiency across QD1, QD2 and QD4 are reported as the primary scores. Each queue depth is tested for one minute or 32GB of data transferred, whichever is shorter. After each queue depth is tested, the drive is given up to one minute to cool off so that the higher queue depths are unlikely to be affected by accumulated heat build-up. The individual read operations are again 4kB, and cover a 64GB span of the drive.

Sustained 4kB Random Read

The Optane SSDs continue to dominate on the longer random read test, though the addition of higher queue depths allows the 900p to pull ahead of the 800p.

Sustained 4kB Random Read (Power Efficiency)

With extremely high performance but lacking the high power draw of the enterprise-class 900p, the Optane SSD 800p is by far the most power efficient at performing random reads.

The Optane SSD 800p starts out in the lead at QD1, but its performance is overtaken by the 900p at all higher queue depths. The flash-based SSDs have power consumption that is comparable to the 800p, but even at QD32 Samsung's 960 PRO hasn't caught up to the 800p's random read performance.

Random Write Performance

Our test of random write burst performance is structured similarly to the random read burst test, but each burst is only 4MB and the total test length is 128MB. The 4kB random write operations are distributed over a 16GB span of the drive, and the operations are issued one at a time with no queuing.

Burst 4kB Random Write (Queue Depth 1)

Flash-based SSDs can cache and combine write operations, so they are able to offer random write performance close to that of the Optane SSDs, which do not perform any significant caching. Where the 32GB Optane Memory offered relatively poor burst random write performance, the 800p is at least as fast as the best flash-based SSDs.

As with the sustained random read test, our sustained 4kB random write test runs for up to one minute or 32GB per queue depth, covering a 64GB span of the drive and giving the drive up to 1 minute of idle time between queue depths to allow for write caches to be flushed and for the drive to cool down.

Sustained 4kB Random Write

When higher queue depths come into play, the write caching ability of Samsung's high-end NVMe SSDs allows them to exceed the Optane SSD 800p's random write speed, though the 900p still holds on to the lead. The 800p's improvement over the Optane Memory is even more apparent with this longer test.

Sustained 4kB Random Write (Power Efficiency)

The power efficiency of the 800p during random writes is pretty good, though Samsung's top drives are better still. The Optane Memory lags behind on account of its poor performance, and the 900p ranks below that because it draws so much power in the process of delivering top performance.

The Samsung 960 PRO and the Intel Optane SSD 900p show off at high queue depths thanks to the high channel counts of their controllers. The Optane SSD 800p doesn't have much room for performance to scale beyond QD2.

AnandTech Storage Bench - Light Sequential Performance
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  • Hurr Durr - Thursday, March 08, 2018 - link

    Hypetane! Reply
  • iter - Thursday, March 08, 2018 - link

    optane = hypetane
    x-point = xtra-pointless

    It keeps getting worse and worse instead of getting better. The next x-point iteration may slip below nand even in the few strong points of the technology.

    Also, it doesn't seem that enterprise is very interested in intel's offering, seeing how they struggle to cram the product in market niches where it is xtra-pointless, I'd go on a limb and assume that's not because of love for consumers or skipping on them fat enterprise product margins.

    Also, it seems that intel gave very misleading information not only in terms of performance, but also regarding the origin of the technology. The official story is its development began in 2012 as a joint venture between intel and micron.

    That however is not true, x-point can be traced back to a now erased from history company named Unity Semiconductors, which was flogging the tech back in 2009 under the CMOx moniker.

    Courtesy of archive.org, there is still some trace of that, along with several PDFs explaining the operational principle of what intel has been highly secretive about:

    https://web.archive.org/web/20120205085357/http://...

    All in all, the secrecy might have to do with intel's inability to deliver on the highly ambitious expectations of the actual designers of the tech. It is nowhere near the 200% better than nand density, in fact it seems at the current manufacturing node it won't be possible to make more than 256 gb in m2 form factor, which is 8 times less than mlc nand or 24 times less than what was projected in 2009. Performance is not all that stellar too, a tad lower than what slc was capable at back in 2012, thank the gods nobody makes slc anymore, so there's a ray of sun to make xtra-pointless hypetane look good on paper.
    Reply
  • chrnochime - Thursday, March 08, 2018 - link

    Rambus renamed it to ReRAM according to this article in 2015, so it would seem the tech lived on through Rambus after the aquisition of Unity Semi.

    https://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=132552...

    But I'm not sure if it's the exact same tech as Intel's.
    Reply
  • iter - Thursday, March 08, 2018 - link

    Check the PDFs, what little intel posted about it is all there. They may have licensed the tech from rambus. It is not like rambus does anything other than patent milking anyway. Reply
  • iter - Thursday, March 08, 2018 - link

    "Coincidentally", rambus bought unity in 2012, exactly when intel allegedly started developing... Reply
  • MDD1963 - Friday, March 23, 2018 - link

    Not everyone remembers a few sticks of RAMBUS RDIMMS for some Pentium 3 boards costing $500-$600 a stick back in '99-'00....; and being outperformed by DDR. Nice job, RAMBUS! Reply
  • tommo1982 - Thursday, March 08, 2018 - link

    Am I reading it right? Was Cross-point memory supposed to be cheaper than NAND? Reply
  • WinterCharm - Thursday, March 08, 2018 - link

    Yes. But I guess we won't see that for a while.

    Latency and power consumption are great... but speed and capacity leave a lot to be desired. When MacBook Pros have NVME drives capable of 3.2 GB/s (yes gigabytes) at a 2TB capacity... Optane is far behind.

    There are some advantages, but I expect that Intel will need to do a lot more work before these are cheaper, faster, and have higher capacity.
    Reply
  • Reflex - Friday, March 09, 2018 - link

    That said, latency is what users notice. Max speed is a rarely encountered scenario in most user workloads. Reply
  • iter - Saturday, March 10, 2018 - link

    No human notices microseconds. Delay becomes noticeable at about 10-20 msec, depending on the individual's reflexes, becomes annoying at about 50 msecs, and becomes detrimental at 200+.

    10 mseconds is 10000 microseconds. Hypetane improves things in the double digit microseconds range. Humans cannot notice that, not today, not in a million years.
    Reply

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