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Intel Optane Technology: When to use it as memory or storage

Peter Krass's picture

by Peter Krass on 04/21/2020
Blog Category: cloud-and-data-centers

You already know that Intel Optane Technology is pretty powerful. But which form of Intel Optane Technology — persistent memory or SSD storage — is best suited for your datacenter customers?

Short answer: It depends.

Do your customers need greater memory capacity? Or are they seeking to improve storage performance?

Persistent memory

If its memory capacity your customers are after, then point them to Intel Optane persistent memory. It resides in the storage memory architecture. But unlike “regular” storage devices, Intel Optane persistent memory can do direct load stores, and it can also do cache line accesses.

What’s more, Intel Optane persistent memory offers very high capacities for individual modules. Specifically, 128GB, 256GB and 512GB. That alone is a potential game-changer. You also get hardware-level encryption for added security.

Intel Optane Persistent Memory module

These features translate into seriously better performance. When combined with a server based on the latest generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor, Intel Optane persistent memory can deliver an up to 8x improvement over DRAM when performing I/O-intensive queries on Apache Spark, according to Intel’s own tests.

Intel also says Intel Optane persistent memory gets you up to 11x more users per system with the Apache Cassandra database than with a comparable system based on DRAM and NVMe drives.

The following table, courtesy of Intel, shows the usage models, specific workloads and applications best suited for Intel Optane persistent memory:

Intel Optane PMem table

Put it all together, and this technology can also help your customers address some of their biggest pain points. Are their costs too high? Intel Optane persistent memory can displace costly DRAM and improve their total cost of ownership (TCO).

Not enough capacity? Intel Optane persistent memory can increase their memory size and consolidate workloads.

How about poor workload performance? Add Intel Optane persistent memory  to break I/O bottlenecks and add high-speed storage as a tiered subsystem.


The best way to think about Intel Optane SSD is as a storage accelerator, specifically, in 3 areas:

> Accelerating: Basically, this means storing data about data. That includes metadata, logging, indexing and journaling.

> Caching: Here, you’re temporarily storing or holding hot data, typically in between the application layer and “regular” data storage.

> Tiering: Intelligently storing the hottest data, again, typically between the application layer and “regular” storage.

Intel Optane DC SSD

What’s all that add up to? Well, when used with Microsoft’s Azure Stack HCI, Intel Optane SSD can deliver up to a 45% boost in performance, according to Intel. Yet at about the same cost per node as a non-Intel Optane SSD setup.

Intel Optane SSD devices can accelerate other applications, too. This table, courtesy of Intel, gives you the rundown:

Intel Optane SSD table

Whichever way your customers go, Intel Optane tech offers them a complete, platform-based solution to process more, store more and move more data. It offers them big advantages over DRAM and NAND. Performance and TCO advantages. And with a proven technology.

Explore Intel Optane Technology:

> Experience the Optane difference

> Learn about Intel Optane Persistent Memory

> Explore Intel Optane SSD storage

> Watch a video: What is Intel Optane Persistent Memory?

> Get Intel Optane Technology training from Intel Partner University

> Find Intel Optane Technology solutions in Intel Solutions Marketplace

> Read a technology brief: Intel Optane Technology – Memory or Storage? Both.


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