Intel Kaby Lake Systems With Optane SSDs Just Over Horizon



/ 2 years ago

Intel 8 3D Xpoint Optane

One of the most watched developments of the year has been Intel and Mircon’s new 3D XPoint technology. With its new innovative design, the memory technology bridges the gap between DRAM and NAND, sitting somewhere in between in terms of both cost and performance. While some products have been announced, the new year is set to bring the first mass-market Intel Optane 3D XPoint offerings.

In their recent update for their Thinkpad lineup, Lenovo accidentally made mention to several Optane based solutions. These are mainly 16GB Optane SSDs in M.2 2242 form factor used in a caching configuration. Instead of using a NVMe TLC SSD, Lenovo is choosing to pair the much faster Optane with a standard hard drive. These devices are part of the 8000p series which goes up to 32GB.

Intel 9 3D Xpoint

While its good to see Optane devices out in the market, one has to question the usage in a caching configuration. With 3D XPoint, the peak speeds will be much better than even an NVMe SSD. However, if the data being requested is not in the cache, performance will be much slower due to the hard drive. The key determinant to its success will be how well the caching algorithms work and the specific user workloads. Intel does have experience with this with their Smart Response Technology or SRT that paired with NAND-based SSDs in a caching role with hard drives. Of course, there is always the issue of reintroducing hard drives into laptops in the first place.

According to various reports, Optane had been and may be continuing to see delays. The new Thinkpads are expected to be showcased at CES and arrive after February. Unfortunately, this does not mean Optane based configurations will be available at launch. It will be interesting to see some live demos and check out how 3D XPoint performs in this caching role.

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