Archive by Author | Mark Kennell

When was the last time you took a memory test?

Despite the proliferation of devices now available it’s good to see recent surveys showing the continuing relevance of the humble PC.

One such recent Intel survey questioning the ‘Importance of the laptop’ concluded that over 80% of respondents agreed with the statement – “I often use my computer when I need to get things done that matter” and a further 70% agreed that – “I feel that the time I spend on my computer is time well spent”. It’s results like this that endorse that the PC is still, in the main, the preferred weapon of choice for productivity and getting the work done for most people.

The business tasks and workloads we ask our PCs to deliver continue to increase. More and more multitasking as well as numerous applications running in the foreground and background are in danger of making what is an essential work tool slow down our productivity and detrimentally impact our user experience. 

Whilst silicon manufacturers do a fantastic job evolving their CPUs to keep a pace with our growing power-hungry requirements, we have started to see other aspects of the system becoming more of a bottleneck to performance. A number of years ago it was considered a big advancement when IT decision makers started realising the benefits and approving the use of Solid-State Drives (SSD) over the traditional ‘spinning’ Hard Disk Drives. Whilst SSD does indeed offers greater performance over its spinning rival they still lag behind the performance of their volatile memory DRAM cousins that make up the PCs main system memory.

Introducing Intel Optane

To increase the performance of the SSD, Intel has developed Intel Optane Memory H10 with Solid State Storage. Conceived originally as a Datacenter technology, Intel has created a single drive device that combines Optane memory and their high-speed SSD (QLC NAND) technology. 

Products based on Intel’s Optane technology represent a different approach to the traditional SSD. A unique characteristic of Optane is that the memory is significantly faster than that used in current NAND SSD drives. Unlike DRAM or main system memory, Optane is Non-volatile which means data written to it will remain even after the PC re-starts. 

Despite the Intel Optane Memory H10 with Solid State Storage solution consisting of both an Optane and NAND SSD memory the user only sees a single HDD. Behind the scenes Intel have an intelligent memory controller and their Rapid Storage Technology driver which is where the workload optimisation takes place. The drive constantly monitors how the user works on a daily basis – which applications are used most, or data is accessed most frequently. These common tasks are then moved dynamically into the higher performing and optimised Optane memory. 

What are the benefits of Intel Optane?

Users are rarely working with only one application at a time so demand systems that can cope with their multi-tasking needs. Even those users that may not think they are multi-tasking with applications typically are due to the increased number of background tasks being run. User experience remains a challenge, and this is where Intel Optane can help by providing: 

  • Improved performance – A more responsive PC that reduces time spent waiting for thing to happen.
  • Security – Support for industry standard encryption, including secure erase. 
  • Ease of use – Despite there being two components, the user and IT support will only see a single storage device.

By utilising Intel Optane, organisations can continue to benefit from today’s demanding applications whilst allowing users to get more work done faster, improving both productivity and user experience.

Intel Optane in Action

Adding more system DRAM memory to a PC has long been the popular choice in attempting to increase its responsiveness, but with Intel’s claims of roughly 2x performance increase over a standard SSD, an Optane enabled SSDs could offer a better option for increasing performance and ultimately the user experience.

The graph below highlights the potential performance gains of Intel Optane when considered as an alternative approach to doubling up on system memory.   

Intel Optane Memory H10 with Solid State Storage options is currently available in the following capacities – 

  • 256GB SSD featuring 16GB of Optane memory
  • 512GB SSD featuring 32GB of Optane memory
  • 1TB SSD featuring 32GB of Optane memory

What’s next for Intel Optane?

The leading PC manufacturers are already including Intel Optane storage options and configurations on the majority of their latest commercial products.

If you are looking to add additional DRAM in the hope of increasing PC responsiveness and performance, talk to us about how you can test the Optane technology for yourself as it is likely to deliver an improved end user experience… and who doesn’t like happy users.