Intel Demos Blinding Speed In 3D XPoint Memory Optane SSD Demo, Transfers 25GB Of Video In 15 Seconds

optane demo
Intel hopes that its 3D XPoint technology that it developed in conjunction with Micron will lead to a new generation of ultra-fast SSDs. The new memory technology, which is being marketed under the Optane brand name, is claimed to eventually be 1000 times faster and 1000 times more reliable than traditional NAND. That’s a pretty tall order to fill, but we have it on good authority that Intel can actually deliver on its promise.

After giving us an amazing demo of Optane SSDs at IDF San Francisco last year, Intel was back at again this week at IDF in Shenzhen, China. Rob Crooke, Intel SVP and GM of the NVM Solutions Group, took to the stage to give yet another demonstration pitting Optane against traditional NAND-based SSDs. However, we must say that Intel had the deck stacked a bit in Optane’s favor, as it used NAND-based SSDs with a SATA interface instead of NVMe.


With that being said, Crooke and the Intel team gave us a brief demo of both a NAND SATA SSD and an Optane SSD transferring a 25GB video file. Identical test machines were used, with the only difference being in their storage systems. The first system included a NAND SSD which was writing the video file to a Thunderbolt 3 enclosure with a NAND SSD inside. The second system included a Optane SSD that was writing the video file to a Thunderbolt 3 enclosure with another Optane SSD inside.

Not surprisingly, the Optane SSD wiped the floor its NAND SSD competition, with the former accomplishing the task in a blistering 15 seconds, topping out at around 2GBps. By the time the Optane SSD completed the test, the NAND SSD was still puttering around at 284MB/sec (after reaching a peak of around 1.5GBps) and had only completed about 27 percent of the operation.

Scrub to 47:45 mark to see Intel's Optane SSD demo...

There are a few asterisks to add to this test however. As we mentioned, Intel was hardly playing fair here as the NAND SSD was using the older SATA interface instead of NVMe. Intel would probably argue that more consumers are using SATA storage, which makes it a more accurate comparison as to what benefits are to be seen, but it’s still something to keep in mind. We would assume that Optane was using some type of PCIe interface.

In addition, some 3D NAND NVMe SSDs are capable of writing data at speeds approaching 2GBps. Intel’s new enterprise class D3700 and D3600 3D NAND SSDs are capable of 2.1GBps reads and 1.5GBps writes. Likewise, Samsung has shown some blistering fast SSDs like the PM1725, which is rated at 5.5GBps read and 1.8GBps write.

But we also have to realize that these Optane SSDs are currently in the prototype phase and there’s plenty of room for improvement between now and when they’re commercially available. But based on what we’re seeing at this point, the future looks bright for 3D XPoint.