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June 1, 2018

Intel Optane DC could boost Xeon servers with up to three terabytes of memory

by John_A

Intel has debuted a new entry in its Optane range which it calls DC Persistent Memory. It’s designed to act like both RAM and SSD storage, offering larger capacities and higher speeds than its individual counterparts. Aimed at servers — at least for now — the new standard will be built in 512GB sticks and is said to offer huge improvements to server reboot times, as well as to supported user numbers.

In a similar manner to the Optane modules that Intel has released so far, Optane DC Persistent Memory is a bridge that exists between longer-term storage and fast response memory. Offering masses more memory than traditional RAM sticks — as much as three terabytes per CPU socket — it will dynamically move data from longer-term solid state storage to memory chips as and when required much closer to the processor. That allows it to minimize the latency typically associated with fetching data from system storage.

Designed for datacenters and servers, the Optane DC Persistent Memory modules were found to offer big performance improvements in early testing. Intel claims that they can reduce restart times from minutes to seconds, thereby improving uptime and reducing penalties associated with system crashes. They also increase performance for virtual machine storage and cloud applications considerably, whilst allowing for much larger numbers of users per server.

Intel also suggests that analytics and applications that leverage large quantities of data can see big performance improvements when using the latest Xeon CPUs in conjunction with the Optane DC persistent memory.

The new memory/storage standard is in the sampling phase and will be shipping out to retail partners before the end of the year. Intel plans to make it broadly available to datacenter customers in 2019. Since developers need to program for DC Persistent Memory in order for users to take advantage of it, however, while production is ramped up, Intel will provide remote access to systems equipped with it in order to accelerate software development.

None of this is likely to speed up your new gaming PC any time soon, but the increase in user numbers supported by individual servers could offer some potential performance improvements for larger scale MMOs.

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