Trying Out Intel Optane Memory On Linux

Written by Michael Larabel in Storage on 15 May 2017 at 10:16 AM EDT. Page 2 of 2. 37 Comments.

While 16GB isn't much space, from there the Ubuntu installer did work just fine for targeting this block device... The install went smooth and the system booted up to Ubuntu on the drive. Of course, this isn't the intended use-case for Optane and 16GB doesn't leave much space when a whole OS is installed, but was just doing testing to ensure Linux was playing nicely.

With the Optane memory working under Linux and appearing as an NVMe block device, from there you can setup the intended use-case of using it as a cache to complement a slower but larger capacity SSD or HDD. Under Linux, the Optane memory would fit nicely with the likes of Bcache for a block layer cache or alternatively Facebook's Flashcache.

As I've just had this Optane memory over the weekend, I've had limited time for testing but this week will be putting the 16GB through its paces serving as a block cache with Bcache/Flashcache plus other storage benchmark comparisons.

For this article, if you are curious how the 16GB Optane memory compares as a raw storage device compared to a Samsung 950 PRO 256GB NVMe SSD, I ran some quick comparison tests on this system... Basically for how the read/write performance compares to a conventional NVMe SSD.

Sure enough, for random reads, the Intel Optane is much faster than a higher-end Samsung 950 PRO NVMe SSD.

While the random write performance of Optane is very low, given the intended use-case for this 3DXPoint memory.

If you are interested in trying Intel Optane memory yourself, they can be found (at least for pre-order) at Amazon and NewEgg. The 16GB version is around $50 USD while 32GB goes for around $80. The more interesting Bcache/Flashcache tests are coming up next now that the basics of Optane memory on Linux are out of the way.

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Michael Larabel

Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via