Application Benchmarks

With a complex multi-layer storage system like the Intel Optane Memory H10, the most accurate benchmarks will be tests that use real-world applications. BAPCo's SYSmark 2018 and UL's PCMark 10 are two competing suites of automated application benchmarks. Both share the general goal of assigning a score to represent total system performance, plus several subscores covering different common use cases. PCMark 10 is the shorter test to run and it provides a more detailed breakdown of subscores. It is also much more GPU-heavy with 3D rendering included in the standard test suite and some 3DMark tests included in the Extended test. SYSmark 2018 has the advantage of using the full commercial versions of popular applications including Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite, and it integrates with a power meter to record total system energy usage over the course of the test.

The downside of these tests is that they cover only the most common everyday use cases, and do not simulate any heavy multitasking. None of their subtests are particularly storage-intensive, so most scores only vary slightly when changing between fast and slow SSDs.

BAPCo SYSmark 2018

BAPCo's SYSmark 2018 is an application-based benchmark that uses real-world applications to replay usage patterns of business users, with subscores for productivity, creativity and responsiveness. Scores represnt overall system performance and are calibrated against a reference system that is defined to score 1000 in each of the scenarios. A score of, say, 2000, would imply that the system under test is twice as fast as the reference system.

BAPCo SYSmark 2018 Scores
Creativity Productivity Responsiveness Overall

The Kaby Lake desktop and Whiskey Lake notebook trade places depending on the subtest; sometimes the notebook is ahead thanks to its extra RAM, and sometimes the desktop is ahead thanks to its higher TDP. These differences usually have a bigger impact than choice of storage, though the Responsiveness test does show that a hard drive alone is inadequate. The Optane Memory H10's score with caching on is not noticeably better than when using the QLC portion alone, and even the hard drive with an Optane cache is fairly competitive with the all-solid state storage configurations.

Energy Usage

The SYSmark energy usage scores measure total system power consumption, excluding the display. Our Kaby Lake test system idles at around 26 W and peaks at over 60 W measured at the wall during the benchmark run. SATA SSDs seldom exceed 5 W and idle at a fraction of a watt, and the SSDs spend most of the test idle. This means the energy usage scores will inevitably be very close. The notebook uses substantially less power despite this measurement including the display. None of the really power-hungry storage options (hard drives, Optane 900P) can fit in this system, so the energy usage scores are also fairly close together.

BAPCo SYSmark 2018 - Energy Consumption

The Optane Memory H10 was the most power-hungry M.2 option, and leaving the Optane cache off saves a tiny bit of power but not enough to catch up with the good TLC-based drives. The Optane SSD 800P has better power efficiency than most of the flash-based drives, but its low capacity is a hindrance for real-world use.


UL PCMark 10

PCMark 10 scores

The Optane cache provides enough of a boost to PCMark 10 Extended scores to bring the H10 into the lead among the M.2 SSDs tested on the Whiskey Lake notebook. The Essentials subtests show the most impact from the Optane storage while the more compute-heavy tasks are relatively unaffected, with the H10 performing about the same with or without caching enabled.

Test Setup Cache Size Effects
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  • The_Assimilator - Tuesday, April 23, 2019 - link

    > I don't understand the purpose of this product.

    It's Intel still trying, and still failing, to make Optane relevant in the consumer space.
  • tacitust - Tuesday, April 23, 2019 - link

    It works in the sense that the OEMs who use this drive will be able to use the fact that customers will be getting cutting edge Optane storage. As the review says, this is a low effort solution, so it likely didn't cost much to develop, so they won't need too many design wins to recoup their costs. It also gets Optane into many more consumer devices, which helps in the long run in terms of perception, if nothing else.

    Note: most users won't know or even care that the drive itself doesn't provide faster performance than other solutions, so it doesn't really matter to Intel either. If they get the design win, Optane does gain relevance in the consumer space, just not with the small segment of power users who read AnandTech for the reviews.
  • ironargonaut - Monday, April 29, 2019 - link

    Seems it does provide faster performance in some usage cases.
  • CheapSushi - Wednesday, April 24, 2019 - link

    I can't stand these dumb posts where people shut down the usage for consumers. I use it all the time for OS and other programs/files. I use it as cache. I use it for different reasons. Even the cheap early x2 laned variants. I'm not in IT or anything enterprise.
  • name99 - Thursday, April 25, 2019 - link

    It's worse than that.
    The OPTANE team clearly want to sell as many Optanes as they can.
    But INTC management has decided that they can extract maximal money from enterprise by limiting
  • name99 - Thursday, April 25, 2019 - link

    It's worse than that.
    The OPTANE team clearly want to sell as many Optanes as they can.
    But INTC management has decided that they can extract maximal money from enterprise by limiting the actually sensible Optane uses (in the memory system, either as persistent memory ---for enterprise, or as a good place to swap to, for consumers).

    And so we have this ridiculous situation where the Optane team keeps trying to sell Optane in ways that make ZERO sense because the way that makes by far the most sense (sell a 16 or 32 GB or 64GB DIMM that acts as the swap space) is prevented by Intel high management (who presumably are scared that if cheap CPUs can talk to Optane DIMMs, then someone somewhere will figure out how to use them in bulk rather than super expensive special Xeons).
    Corporate dysfunction at its finest...
  • Billy Tallis - Friday, April 26, 2019 - link

    I think it's too soon to say that Intel's artificially holding back Optane DIMMs from market segments where they might have a chance. They had initially planned to have Optane DIMM support in Skylake-SP but couldn't get it working until Cascade Lake, which has only been shipping in volume for a few months. Now that they have got one working Optane-compatible memory controller out the door, they can consider bringing those memory controller features down to other product segments. But we've seen that they have given up on updating the memory controllers on their 14nm consumer parts even to provide LPDDR4 support, which certainly is a more compelling and widely-demanded feature than Optane support. I wouldn't expect Intel to be able to introduce Optane support to their consumer CPUs until their second generation of 10nm (not counting CNL) processors at the earliest. Trying to squeeze it into their first mass-market 10nm would be unreasonable since they should be trying at all costs to avoid feature creep on those parts and just ship something that works and isn't still Skylake.
  • ironargonaut - Monday, April 29, 2019 - link

    Read here for an actual real world usage test. Two system with only memory difference and same input sometimes significantly different results.
    3X speed up for some tasks. I don't know about ya'll but I multitask a lot at work so I will let background stuff go while I do something else that is in front of me.
  • weevilone - Monday, April 22, 2019 - link

    That's too bad. I tried to tinker with the Optane caching when it launched and it was a software disaster. I wrote it off to early days stuff and put it in my kids' PC when they began to allow non-boot drives to be cached. It was another disaster and Intel's techs couldn't figure it out.

    I wound up re-installing Windows the first time and I had to redo the kids' game drive the second time. No thanks.
  • CheapSushi - Wednesday, April 24, 2019 - link

    The problem is you were using the proprietary HDD caching they marketed. There are so many ways to do drive caching on Windows that doesn't involve that Intel software. It's way better and smoother. even if still software. Software RAID and cache is superior to hardware cache unless you're using $1K+ add-on cards.

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