At least two retailers from the US on Friday have started to take pre-orders on Intel’s Optane DC Persistent Memory modules and therefore had to reveal their prices. Today they only offered 128 GB and 256 GB modules, possibly indicating that the range-topping 512 GB Optane is set to ship a bit later.

The main purpose of Intel’s Optane DC Persistent Memory modules is to bring higher memory capacities closer to the CPU at a fraction of DRAM cost. Even with recent drops of DDR4 prices, high-capacity RDIMMs and LRDIMMs (i.e., 128 GB or 256 GB) cost thousands of US Dollars. Meanwhile, Intel’s 3D XPoint memory used for Optane-branded products is cheaper to make than DRAM, but offers a high performance and a strong endurance, so in many cases using Optane DC Persistent Memory instead of DDR4 makes sense for memory-intensive applications.

Without any surprises, Intel’s Optane DC modules are priced in accordance with their market positioning: well above regular SSDs, but well below DDR4 RDIMMs/LRDIMMs of the same capacity. Depending on the retailer, the Optane DC 128 GB costs $842 - $893, whereas the Intel Optane DC 256 GB is priced at $2668 - $2850. Keep in mind that these are not official MSRPs of Intel (which will likely keep its RCPs confidential as they will depend on multiple factors), but prices at which certain retailers may sell them.

Pre-Order Prices of Optane DC Persistent Memory Modules
Optane DC Persistent Memory 128 GB $893
$6.97 per GB
$6.57 per GB
Optane DC Persistent Memory 256 GB $2,850
$11.13 per GB
$10.42 per GB
Optane DC Persistent Memory 512 GB ? ?

Unfortunately, neither of the retailers that started to take pre-orders on Intel’s Optane DC Persistent Memory revealed their ETA. Intel’s official position is that actual systems that use the modules will be available in June, so it looks like the chip giant is about to start shipments of its Optane DIMMs to interested parties.

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Source: (1, 2), (1, 2) (via Momomo_US/Twitter)

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  • zodiacfml - Friday, April 5, 2019 - link

    If that is the case, it is poor value, better to spend more on DRAM. However, can be of value with servers that have limited DIMM slots.
  • twtech - Saturday, April 6, 2019 - link

    For some applications, the fact that Optane is persistent is potentially a nice advantage.

    Basically, if you had an application where you would have considered a custom DRAM-based storage solution with battery backup - the custom nature of which adds significant cost on top of the already expensive memory - Optane is a potentially cost-effective solution.

    What sort of scenarios would that apply to? A lot, actually. If you have a server that stores a (comparatively) small amount of data - but that data is being read from and/or written to extremely frequently - Optane could be an ideal solution.
  • Death666Angel - Saturday, April 6, 2019 - link

    "Basically, if you had an application where you would have considered a custom DRAM-based storage solution with battery backup"
    I don't really get that. Are there applications that provide battery power to just the DRAM when the whole system is offline (and that is not called "suspend to DRAM")? No business I know runs anything server-like on non-battery-backed-up systems. So the only advantage of Optane to DRAM I see is that it saves the seconds it takes the PCIe SSD (3GB/s) to copy the old DRAM data from and to DRAM. Considering server boot times are in the order of minutes already, shaving off that little bit doesn't seem like a huge benefit, especially if general performance suffers. And servers are rarely shut down as well.

    "small amount of data - but that data is being read from and/or written to extremely frequently"
    So it's a small amount of data and the server is never offline? How is the persistent thing of Optane an advantage in that scenario? And MSRP wise, Optane isn't cheaper than DDR4 ECC memory. And that is significantly faster still.

    Now, if Optane memory allows TBs of semi-high-speed DRAM like storage instead of just hundreds of GBs (to 1.5TB?) like DRAM does, it might have a niche, especially if it is cheaper. But your argument doesn't hold much water in my experience.
  • Kevin G - Saturday, April 6, 2019 - link

    There are edge cases were nonvolatile memory is still helpful. They generally revolve around the data center monkey pulling the wrong power cable or failed power supply on a running system.

    This also opens up interesting possibilities like hot swapping CPUs and resuming where they left off (though some select systems already have this capability to an extent with normal DRAM). A slightly different scenario would be interrupting execution and then moving the memory to a different system to resume after a different hardware failure/upgrade. Kind of niche but I can see some utility considering how arcane server grade software licensing is.
  • IntelUser2000 - Saturday, April 6, 2019 - link

    Initiallly the persistence feature won't be used as much, because it requires optimizing the application to take advantage. However the expanded memory capacity, Memory Mode doesn't. At higher capacities DRAM is significantly more expensive.

    VMs, in-memory databases, and even cloud servers are areas where it can be used. Enterprise would probably also be happy to get larger memory capacities. On Ars Technica, this guy was talking about being able to use larger datasets to speed up machine learning applications.

    You can also use the DIMMs as a block storage device, so it becomes a really fast SSD. The price/GB of the 128GB DIMM is about on par with P4800X, so it can displace them.
  • Threska - Sunday, April 7, 2019 - link

    Feeding an SIMD architecture.
  • Kevin G - Saturday, April 6, 2019 - link

    Just to point out, early talk of these Optane DIMMs pointed toward capacities of 2 TB per module but just not initially at launch. Though the release of Optane DIMMs is roughly 18 months behind schedule as they were originally targeted as a Sky Lake-SP feature. It is odd that we are not seeing the 1 TB Optane DIMM modules as Intel should have had time to build up inventory or migrated to their 3D XPoint production to a newer node.

    Right now Samsung is offering 256 GB LR-DIMMs for those seeking maximum capacity and they didn't exist when Intel initially announced their Optane DIMM initiative. So releasing an Optane DIMM with only twice the capacity of a DRAM option is kind of disappointing. It makes it more difficult for Intel to make their case if the capacity side of the equation is as strong. (ie 128 GB vs. 1 TB makes the case better for Optane DIMMs than a 256 GB vs. 512 GB match up).
  • Valantar - Monday, April 8, 2019 - link

    TechPowerUp reports 512GB modules for sale at CompSource for $7 816. So more like $47 000 :)
  • olafgarten - Friday, April 5, 2019 - link

    If that price comes down a bit and these come to Desktop Platforms (Or at least HEDT) this could be very useful for machine learning on large datasets.
  • shahmanish - Friday, April 5, 2019 - link

    ColfaxDirect is offering all the 3 modules at great prices

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