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Dell and HP spotted advertising Optane memory as RAM

by Mark Tyson on 18 June 2018, 11:21

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Dell (NASDAQ:DELL), Hewlett Packard (NYSE:HPQ)

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Intel likes to talk about its Optane products creating a new memory paradigm. The last time HEXUS wrote about Optane was concerning the sampling of Intel's Optane DC persistent memory with customers, at the end of May. In that article you can see we have reproduced an Intel diagram showing a memory pool, with Optane products bridging the gap between the 'hot' DRAM and 'cold' NAND storage resources, used by a computing system. Previously Intel has used a pyramid diagram to show the potential of Optane.

To be clear, the Intel Optane DC persistent memory, that is closest to DRAM, is yet to arrive. Only its closest partners can test it out at the moment. However, a pair of top PC OEMs appear to be marketing laptops packing Intel Optane 'cache memory' SSDs in a rather unclear, or even deliberately muddied way.

Extreme Tech has spotted both Dell and HP laptop listings with Intel Optane drives pre-installed - adding the Optane capacity figure to the 'memory' spec, rather than the 'storage' spec field. Actually it isn't quite so clear cut. The Dell laptop listing is less clear. It headlines a system as offering 24GB - 1TB. When clicked through to the system configurator it is revealed that the "24GB of Memory: 8GB 2666MHz DDR4 DRAM + 16GB Intel Optane memory." HP's listing is more immediately clear as in the headline it breaks down the 'memory' figure as follows: "24GB Memory: 16GB Intel Optane + 8GB RAM, 1TB Hard Drive".

These 16-32GB Optane cache drives are designed to accelerate a conventional HDD's read-write performance and are explicitly part of the PC storage subsystem. Therefore they shouldn't start getting mixed up in the DRAM spec figures.

Another interesting aspect to this story is how Extreme Tech spotted that Intel has changed its FAQ regarding the difference between Intel Optane Memory and DRAM. Previously it was very clear that you cannot use 16GB of Optane and 4GB of DRAM to meet the requirements of a game that requires 8GB of DRAM, for example. Now it has removed that explanation and claims that "Intel Optane memory is called memory because it uses a new memory media to store information closer to the processor. It’s similar to the function of dynamic random access memory (DRAM)."

In summary, Extreme Tech asserts that Dell and HP are unlikely to have come up with this marketing ploy on their own. Furthermore, the use of the generic term 'memory' and mixing of the DRAM + Optane totals is "cynical and shameful," and that the whole message is "consumer-hostile".

HEXUS Forums :: 17 Comments

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Intel Optane memory is called memory because it uses a new memory media to store information closer to the processor. It’s similar to the function of dynamic random access memory (DRAM).

Quite incorrect (please note that my original comment out-load was much less polite).

If you have to access it over the PCI-E bus, or any other bus where the entire storage medium is not mapped directly into the CPU's address space then its function is nowhere near that of DRAM, and that's not even taking into account the performance and electrical characteristics.

This is a new low for Intel.
This is a new low for Intel.

Except it isn't Intel, it's whoever wrote the bogus spec in the advert.
Oh I see what you mean - ignore my comment.

Persistent storage is memory, although not as most people understand it, so I agree it's unwise to call it that in anything aimed at consumers.
Very hostile behaviour to their customers! Between RAMdisk, RAMcache and storeMI alot of the features are given for free by AMD as software. I'm sure that optane is better performing, but AMD isn't trying to rip you off to get it. Not an AMD Vs Intel cpu point, but a customer relations point.
This is a new low for Intel.

A new low for Dell and HP, albeit with the possible agreement of at least Intel's marketing department.

Don't pin this entirely on Intel as part of some general Intel hate, it appears to me that this is primarily Dell and HP using misleading marketing on their products. It wouldn't be the first time storage marketing has sunk to murky depths, I've seen laptops containing a 1TB hard drive and cache or small SSD shown as “1TB SSD” or “1.28TB SSD” before.