April 15th, 2019 by Brian Beeler
Cisco Details Intel Optane DC Persistent Memory Pricing
This week marks the start of order taking for most server vendors that announced support for Second Generation Intel Xeon Scalable CPUs as well as Intel Optane DC persistent memory. At launch, Intel was quiet on suggested pricing for persistent memory modules, opting to give ultimate pricing control to their system provider partners. While we have seen grey market pricing for PMEM leak out over the last several days, Cisco is one of the first to publicly show pricing in their UCS server configurator.
As a reminder, Intel Optane DC PMEM can be configured either as an extension of memory (Memory Mode) or as a block storage device (App Direct Mode). There's also a hybrid option, that can blend the two. App Direct Mode is really where application vendors can take best advantage of PMEM, it's also the most widely supported mode across operating systems and hypervisors, but it does require an application that understands PMEM. Memory Mode is easiest to implement for the end user, but it's really only effective for those looking for a more economical way to get to a massive memory footprint, typically using all available DIMM slots in a system.
With that context, let's examine Optane PMEM pricing from a Cisco USC perspective. First off, Cisco does have all three capacities of the Intel modules available for order, and presumably they are shipping as well. The table below outlines the module cost as well as the cost per GB.
Clearly there's a large premium to acquire the higher capacity PMEM modules, but this is typical with any new technology, SSDs have been through a similar progression. The sweet spot for now will be the 128GB modules, which when paired 4:1 with DRAM, can still provide an excellent footprint for in-memory databases and other applications that can leverage PMEM. It's early days though, we'll surely all be watching with anticipation to see how PMEM pricing works out over time and how the fluxuations in DRAM pricing impact the overall value proposition.