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Intel marketing Optane as being like extra DRAM

QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 23,665
https://www.extremetech.com/computing/271543-pc-oems-are-selling-laptops-with-optane-cache-drives-and-claiming-its-memory

Apparently Dell and HP have now simultaneously started, for laptops with an Optane memory cache, started advertising the total amount of DRAM plus Optane as being the total amount of memory in the system.

For those not familiar with Optane, it's a new type of memory developed by Intel and Micron.  If you think of it as a high end type of NAND, that usually won't be too far off on the performance characteristics.

One could argue that Optane offers performance characteristics somewhere between NAND and DRAM, but usually much closer to NAND.  In terms of latency, IOPS, or write durability, it's much closer to NAND than DRAM.  For throughput, it's basically indistinguishable from NAND.  The price is also closer to NAND than to DRAM, and it's non-volatile like NAND and unlike DRAM.

It's also a stupid product for consumer use.  Maybe a full SSD out of it isn't completely stupid for someone with an unlimited budget, but as a cache drive, it's completely stupid.  Optane might have some significant enterprise uses, and maybe future iterations of it will be more useful, as the performance characteristics have severely retreated from what Intel originally promised.  Or maybe not.

But if it's a stupid product for consumers, then how are you supposed to get consumers to buy it?  With deceptive marketing, of course.  Claim that a laptop with 8 GB of DRAM plus 16 GB of Optane has 24 GB of total memory, and hope that clueless people think that's more than a laptop with 16 GB of DDR4 DRAM.  After all, Intel produces Optane but not DRAM.

While Optane is a type of memory of sorts, so is NAND.  To market a computer with a 1 TB SSD as having 1 TB of "memory" isn't technically wrong in that sense, but if you're trying to compare it to another computer's amount of DRAM only, that's extremely deceptive.  And that's basically what Intel is pushing for Optane.

It actually reminds me of when someone at AMD decided to market an APU with 4 x86 CPU cores and 6 GPU compute units as having 10 "compute cores".
MadFrenchieFlyByKnightmmolou

Comments

  • MadFrenchieMadFrenchie Member LegendaryPosts: 8,505
    Quizz, what do you do for a living?  I obviously have a guess, but just wanted to know specifically.

    No problems if you'd rather not say.

    image
  • RidelynnRidelynn Member EpicPosts: 7,277
    edited June 2018
    I think Optane is an interesting product. The newer, persistent memory DIMM slot version has some interesting prospects. I don't know if any of them are consumer oriented, but interesting.

    Those, I could almost see being marketed as RAM, since they do plug into DIMM slots. Even though they serve largely the same purpose as the M.2 drives, just on a faster access bus, and they are most definitely not a substitute for actual DRAM.

    These are just M.2 drives. It would allow you to use a larger mechanical drive and see mostly SSD speeds on common day to day use... but then again, so would an SSD cache made by anyone else. I wouldn't call them entirely pointless, but this marketing is entirely inappropriate.

    I don't know how much Intel/HP/Dell is charging for the addition of Optane, I didn't click any of the links - if your not spending a lot for it (and sometimes OEMs can do that with volume deals), then sure, it certainly doesn't hurt anything. But I wouldn't pay a lot extra for a cache drive, and I would sure as hell be pissed if I bought what I thought was 24G of RAM only to find out it wasn't....
    Torval
  • 13lake13lake Member UncommonPosts: 719
    edited June 2018
    Sorry, but PC OEMs being dishonest isn't Intel's fault... this article seems to have a bias to me and assumes way too much. I guess some builders conveniently misread the latest Intel FAQ to their advantage.
    If you think Intel had zero input on this with the OEMs, I've got a bridge to sell you :)
    TorvalRidelynnQuizzical
  • RidelynnRidelynn Member EpicPosts: 7,277
    edited June 2018
    13lake said:
    Sorry, but PC OEMs being dishonest isn't Intel's fault... this article seems to have a bias to me and assumes way too much. I guess some builders conveniently misread the latest Intel FAQ to their advantage.
    If you think Intel had zero input on this with the OEMs, I've got a bridge to sell you :)
    Yeah, Intel's Optane FAQ was even updated so that OEMs could make that exact claim.... this is coming from the top. Intel wouldn't have made the edits they did make without some intent.

    I agree, the article has some bias. I think it's more or less justified.

    I think it is just one color in the painting of Intel being scared, and they should be. 
    Torval
  • jitter77jitter77 Member UncommonPosts: 421
    I was just going to post something about this, but it was more of a question.  My neighbor wants a new laptop and I saw one that had an i5 w/ 8GB RAM and 16GB optane for around $500.  No SSD drive.  Is this going to be faster than a laptop w/ just 8GB of RAM.  For the record my neighbor basically only surfs the web and watches youtube, but he does have a ton of firefox tabs. 
  • RidelynnRidelynn Member EpicPosts: 7,277
    edited June 2018
    jitter77 said:
    I was just going to post something about this, but it was more of a question.  My neighbor wants a new laptop and I saw one that had an i5 w/ 8GB RAM and 16GB optane for around $500.  No SSD drive.  Is this going to be faster than a laptop w/ just 8GB of RAM.  For the record my neighbor basically only surfs the web and watches youtube, but he does have a ton of firefox tabs. 
    There are a few different scenarios here:

    The 8G of RAM isn't a variable here. The variable is the hard drive.

    No SSD/No Optane - horribly slow. Several minute boot times. Noticeable lag from the time you click Start or right click on desktop until stuff comes up. Avoid this if you can, it's just not worth it, no matter how much storage space you think you need (my opinion there, but a very strong one)

    No SSD/Optane - not bad. Will have some slowdowns when you do uncommon stuff, but should generally boot up fairly quickly and do day to day stuff ok. Can get this with a large >1TB drive without breaking the bank.

    SSD / (Optane doesn't really matter here) - sub 30-sec bootups (sub 10-sec possible, but probably not until you get rid of bloatware on the laptop). Stuff is very snappy, all the time. Drives over about 1TB are going to cost a premium though, and typical size is going to be 120-500GB.

    For most people, for the price Intel is charging for Optane doesn't really save any money over going with some typical sized SSD... it would net you larger storage space though. The tradeoff is consistency on the speed... if what you are doing is common (and Optane has cached it), it will be better than SSD speed. If it's not, it will be just as bad as not having an SSD at all.

    For the "Just looks at Facebook and plays Solitare, and thinks they need a lot of HD space for all the photos" - that's exactly the market that is being targeted here by Intel.
    Torval
  • jitter77jitter77 Member UncommonPosts: 421
    What I dont understand is this is for a 17.3" HP laptop w/ optane and I believe a i5 8250u for only $500.  The only comparable one I found was about the same specs w/o optane for $530.  Seems almost too good to be true.  I will have to look at ones w/ SSDs although he probably does not really need that.
  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 23,665
    jitter77 said:
    What I dont understand is this is for a 17.3" HP laptop w/ optane and I believe a i5 8250u for only $500.  The only comparable one I found was about the same specs w/o optane for $530.  Seems almost too good to be true.  I will have to look at ones w/ SSDs although he probably does not really need that.
    I'm not sure what product you're talking about.  The only laptop on HP's site with Optane and a Core i5 for meaningfully under $700 is this:

    https://store.hp.com/us/en/pdp/hp-pavilion-laptop-15t-touch-optional-3bc70av-1

    And that looks like an effort at building about the worst laptop around a modern Core i5 and Optane that they can.  There's only a single 4 GB memory module, and the Intel integrated GPU will need to claim some of that memory for itself.  So you'll end up paging to disk pretty fast, which will be painful on a 5400 RPM hard drive.  The monitor looks pretty bad, too.

    So let's go fishing for something comparable without the Optane, shall we?

    https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=1TS-000X-00SF1

    That's about $70 cheaper.  It comes with 6 GB of memory rather than 4 GB, and uses both memory channels, even if it mismatches them.  So that's a vastly superior memory configuration.  It's the same integrated GPU as the HP laptop, and a different bin of the same CPU die for a much higher base clock and lower max turbo.  The hard drive looks comparable, and I'd bet against the monitor being much good.

    If you take the Optane away from the HP laptop, is it still better than the Acer?  I'd say it's probably worse because of the memory configuration.  And the Acer is $70 cheaper.  The Acer laptop is on sale to reach that price at $70 off, but the HP laptop is also on sale at $200 off.

    So no, you're not getting Optane for free.  That said, it only costs $35:

    https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA12K63N1870

    Still, that's money that would have been much better spent either doubling the DRAM:

    https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820232145

    Or getting a real SSD, as you can get 120 GB for under $35:

    https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820301368
  • jitter77jitter77 Member UncommonPosts: 421
    this was a sams club sale.   it is supposed to start today.   if it is on their site i will link it.   I am unsure if it was a i5 7200u or the 8250.  The paper ad did not say.   i do know it was 8GB ram with 16GB optane.  Screen was 17.3" and 1600x900.  It was originally $650 and on sale for $499.  Like i said after searching around it seems too cheap to be true
  • RidelynnRidelynn Member EpicPosts: 7,277
    I didn't know they made 17" 1600x900 displays anymore - that's where a good chunk of the money didn't go.
    Torval
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