Our first contact with Intel’s Optane memories left a very good taste in our mouths. The tests that we carried out in our laboratory almost two years ago with the first units that fell into our hands showed us that its strengths are its reduced latency and a random reading speed that exceeds quite clearly the performance of many SSDs. with NAND chips.
During sequential writing operations, Optane memories also show very good times, but the best results are achieved during random writing. As you can see, they paint really well, but they have two weak points that we can not ignore: a cost per gigabyte noticeably higher than that of SSDs , and also a lower storage capacity. But Intel has just released a new type of memory, the Optane H10 with SSD storage , which, on paper, aims to solve the weaknesses that these memories had until now. Let’s see what he proposes to us.
So are the new Optane H10 memories with Intel SSD
The key innovation introduced by the Optane memories when they reached the market was 3D Xpoint technology , an Intel development that aspired to consolidate itself as a solid alternative to the NAND chips used by SSDs. As I have advanced in the previous paragraphs, in some important sections this Intel technology clearly outperforms the SSD, even the high-end, but its reduced capacity (modules with 16 and 32 Gbytes are available) causes that they must work in tandem, either with a mechanical hard drive, or with a higher capacity SSD.
Precisely, this is the disadvantage that Intel aims to eliminate with the launch of the new Optane H10 modules with SSD. How did he do it? Simply, combining their Optane memories, those we knew so far, and their SSD units with QLC 3D NAND technology in a single module that maintains the M.2 form factor. In the image you have below you can see the appearance of the printed circuit board of one of the new Optane H10 modules .
On the left half of the module reside the Optane storage chip with 3D Xpoint technology itself and the memory access controller, and on the right half of the printed circuit board are the QLC 3D NAND chips, which are the ones that It uses Intel in its SSD drives, and also the driver that allows access to them. As you can see in the following image, it is curious to check the clarity with which both components are delimited on the printed circuit board of the module.
The following image clearly reflects what all users are sure we are asking. What capabilities does Intel talk about when proposing these new Optane H10 modules? At the moment three different solutions will be available: a module with 16 GB Optane and 256 GB SSD, another with 32 GB Optane and 512 GB SSD, and a last option with 32 GB Optane and 1 TB SSD . It is clear that the bet of Intel is to integrate in this storage option everything we need users, so it will not be necessary to bet on an additional SSD, unless the TB of the most ambitious Optane H10 module is not enough.
On the other hand, the interface used by these modules, which, as we have seen, will have M.2 format, will be PCIe 3.0×4 with NVMe , so in this area there is no surprise. Of course, at least this first batch of Optane H10 modules needs to coexist with Intel Core U microprocessors of eighth generation for laptops and chipsets of the 300 series of Intel.
Intel Optane H10 with SSD: availability
As we have just seen, these new storage modules look really good. From them we can expect an attractive performance because they are being offered by the current Optane solutions, and the addition to the modules of the SSD is interesting because it greatly expands its storage capacity. However, there remain several questions in the air that we can only answer when we have the opportunity to analyze them in our own facilities.
How will they perform in a real-life scenario when Optane storage and the SSD drive undergo significant stress? Will it clearly outperform a dedicated high-end SSD unit? What impact will the new Optane H10 modules have on the price of laptops that will bet on them? We will probably leave soon because Intel has confirmed that the first laptops that will incorporate this storage technology will arrive during the second quarter of this year , so, in principle, they are falling.