Let our powers combine! Intel smushes Optane speed and QLC flash capacity into one drive

Gumstick card for notebooks

Intel has combined its Optane 3D XPoint memory with up to a terabyte of QLC flash to provide a responsive, high-capacity gumstick card for lappies.

The H10 card comes in a single-sided M.2 format with 16GB of Optane and 256GB flash capacity, moving up to 32GB with both the 512GB mid-range model and 1TB high-end version.

Intel_H10

Intel H10

Host systems need an eighth-generation Intel Core U series CPU and Intel 300 series chipset with a Platform Controller Hub.

They must also have Chipzilla's RST (Rapid Storage Technology) software, which takes the two separate Optane and QLC (4bits/cell) flash stores on the card and presents them as a single volume to accessing applications. The card hooks up to its host using a PCIe 3.0 x 4 lane connection: two lanes for the Optane and two for the QLC flash.

Frequently accessed files go in the Optane store, others in the flash.

Intel suggested this is good for gaming with fast loading from the Optane volume. Random read/write IOPS is up to 55,000/55,000 with a queue depth of 2. The sequential read/write bandwidth is up to 2.4/1.8GB/sec.

The Santa Clara chip-flinger said more than 90 per cent of application workloads operate in the 1 and 2 queue depth range. It also said large file accesses could be up to 90x faster with the H10 – if you're comparing that with accessing them from a TLC (3bits/cell) SSD. Games can be started from the H10 up to 60x faster than from an SSD, it claimed.

Imagine a rocket for fast deliveries and a cargo ship for the slow and large-capacity ones. That's the idea, anyway.

At first Intel will closely control H10 distribution, with initial availability in systems from Asus, Dell and HPE through Best Buy this quarter, but wants to add more hardware OEMs and retailers to the list. Ultimately motherboard builders may get access to the H10 as well. ®

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