Do you ever wonder what the next big speed boost to computers might be? Ask any person today, and they will tell you that using an SSD is one of the biggest and as of 2017, cost-effective ways of speeding up system performance. While processors have increased in speed and decreased in power usage, the relative need for performance has gone down – and thus we accept computers with lower clock rates. This has placed more diversity in the CPU world. A few years back, ram capacity exploded, and it, too, has stabilized since to have a projectable curve of growth. We have finally moved past 1 GB devices to consider 2 GB at the low end,, with 4, 8, and 16 dominating the mid to high-performance systems. And 32 is becoming more and more common for some enthusiasts.
Enter optane, Intel’s new solution to stay relevant in the world as it moves to Arm. As a matter of fact, this could be a good strategy for them, especially through the coming years for this very problem. Let’s think for a second. We’ve stabilized clock rates around 3.8 – 4.5 gHZ. AMD’s new Risen platform looks promising to give 6-8 cores to the consumer market in an open platform, something Intel lacks. Intel is manufacturing ARM chips,, but they are struggling to downsize their own processors to 10NM and below.
Bringing 2010 back
According to a PC world breakdown of things Optane will make 2010 cool again. The devices use 3D ram technology developed in partnership with Micron to provide a new type of storage which is just as fast as D-ram (dynamic random access memory, basically your current 4 or 8 gig sticks,) but does not lose data when powered off. Therefore this could replace not only traditional storage mediums, but also regular ram for devices, or combine the two entirely if it was allocated partitions that were erased. This would fundamentally change how the operating system and computer handle data organization. Intel said that it could be 10 times faster than current data storage options, eventually dropping down with price just like SSD choices have recently. In reality, the Optane storage devices shipping this summer (Q2) will be about 4-6 times faster. Still not bad, though.
The 16 and 32 GB announced models will limit many people. So will the fact that only Caby-lake processors will be able to utilize the new technology, meaning no backwards compatibility to your old systems. It is quite possible that other companies will derive it to work with these, so we will have to watch this one carefully to see if competition can pop up. Intel plans on shipping this already, and some computer manufacturers like Del plan to place it in their Optiplex desktops. Oh, how fitting, Del. Lenovo also announced a Thinkpad t570 during CES, but the price will go significantly up once you choose Optane in the configuration. Many say that the difference will be between $2-3 per gigabyte, so anywhere from $30-90, for the extra storage option, if not more. At this point, terabyte Optane storage would still cost a couple thousand US dollars.
Nevertheless, this seems as though a new solution will definitely be in consumer or business reach soon. The partnership and Intel’s need to innovate the market will continue, and they might build a business around it. The backwards compatibility component will eventually have to exist, as we know this scenario has played out far too often in our industry before.
The hybrid ram-drive idea is here now, too.
On Sunday, Intel released a 375 GB SSD which can also double as ram for datacenter environments. This costs around $1500, which definitely places it around that $2-3 storage mark. Higher capacities with more storage, including 1.5 TB, are expected later this year. These will all be M.2 form factors, also — meaning they will plug into some newer motherboards. Intel also touted a new memory drive technology, which sits between the processor and ram to seamlessly create a pool of both regular ram and new 3dX-point storage. For giant enterprise systems, this means having terabytes of ram for every cat video and Facebook photo’s quick load. (Not that Facebook announced using this technology yet, anyhow.) In the future, this same technology will also come in regular ram form-factors, allowing super fast chips which are DDr4-standard capable as well.