BAPCo SYSmark 2014 SE

BAPCo's SYSmark 2014 SE is an application-based benchmark that uses real-world applications to replay usage patterns of business users in the areas of office productivity, media creation and data/financial analysis. In addition, it also addresses the responsiveness aspect which deals with user experience as related to application and file launches, multi-tasking etc. Scores are calibrated against a reference system that is defined to score 1000 in each of the scenarios. A score of, say, 2000, would imply that the system under test is twice as fast as the reference system.

SYSmark scores are based on total application response time as seen by the user, including not only storage latency but time spent by the processor. This means there's a limit to how much a storage improvement could possibly increase scores, because the SSD is only in use for a small fraction of the total test duration. This is a significant difference from our ATSB tests where only the storage portion of the workload is replicated and disk idle times are cut short to a maximum of 25ms.

For this review, SYSmark has been used on two different machines: a relatively high-end system with a six-core Intel Core i7-8700K processor and 16GB of RAM, and a more limited system with a quad-core Intel Core i5-7400 processor and just 4GB of RAM. The low-end system spends a lot of time swapping thanks to its small amount of RAM, and this adds greatly to the storage workload.

AnandTech SYSmark SSD Testbed
CPU Intel Core i7-8700K
Motherboard Gigabyte Aorus H370 Gaming 3 WiFi
Chipset Intel H370
Memory 2x 8GB Kingston DDR4-2666
Case In Win C583
Power Supply Cooler Master G550M
OS Windows 10 64-bit, version 1709


AnandTech SYSmark SSD Low-End Testbed
CPU Intel Core i5-7400
Motherboard ASUS PRIME Z270-A
Chipset Intel Z270
Memory 1x 4GB Corsair DDR4-2666
Case In Win C583
Power Supply Cooler Master G550M
OS Windows 10 64-bit, version 1709

None of the Optane Memory modules are large enough to serve as a Windows boot drive alone as well as storing all the applications used for SYSmark, so this section only tests the Optane Memory and Optane SSD 800P as cache drives. (The 118GB Optane SSD 800P is pretty much the smallest drive that can could run SYSmark, but it doesn't leave much room for user data.)

BAPCo SYSmark 2014 SE - Data / Financial Analysis BAPCo SYSmark 2014 SE - Media Creation

BAPCo SYSmark 2014 SE - Office Productivity

The Data/Financial Analysis, Media Creation, and Office Productivity sub-tests are all relatively insensitive to storage performance, and they are shown in order of decreasing sensitivity to the CPU and RAM differences between the two test systems. These results show that a mechanical hard drive can hold back application performance, but almost any solid state storage system—including Optane Memory caching—is sufficient to shift the bottlenecks over to compute and memory.

BAPCo SYSmark 2014 SE - Responsiveness

The Responsiveness test is less focused on overall computational throughput and more on those annoying delays that make a computer feel slow: application launching, opening and saving files, and a variety of multitasking scenarios. Here, moving off a mechanical hard drive is by far the best upgrade that can be made to improve system performance. Going beyond a mainstream SATA SSD provides diminishing returns, but there is a measurable difference between the SATA SSD and the fastest Optane SSD.

Energy Usage

The SYSmark energy usage scores measure total system power consumption, excluding the display. Our SYSmark test system idles at around 26 W and peaks at over 60 W measured at the wall during the benchmark run. SATA SSDs seldom exceed 5 W and idle at a fraction of a watt, and the SSDs spend most of the test idle. This means the energy usage scores will inevitably be very close. A typical notebook system will tend to be better optimized for power efficiency than this desktop system, so the SSD would account for a much larger portion of the total and the score difference between SSDs would be more noticeable.

BAPCo SYSmark 2014 SE - Total System Power

The Intel Optane SSD 900P is quite power-hungry by SSD standards, but running a hard drive is even worse. The Optane Memory M10 and 118GB 800P further add to power consumption when used as cache devices, but they speed up the test enough that total energy usage is not significantly affected. The 32GB Optane Memory doesn't offer as much of a performance boost, and it lacks the power management capabilities of the more recent Optane M.2 drives.

Test Procedures AnandTech Storage Bench - Heavy
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  • Keljian - Tuesday, May 29, 2018 - link

    optane's forte is latency and small block access with low queue depth.. eg anything that uses anything resembling a database. Provided you have some precaching, for general apps this is a big deal.
  • Spunjji - Wednesday, May 16, 2018 - link

    The scenario you just described would see zero measurable benefit from Optane. The way I see it there's two obvious scenarios. In the first, you're regularly working on the same photos, in which case keeping them on SSD until the project is "done" and then archiving them to HDD is not especially difficult. In the second, you regularly dip back into your older images, in which case an Optane cache will never learn the pattern and won't speed anything up.

    You're much better off having any catalogues stored on SSD alongside the most recent images, then bumping those images across to HDD storage when the project is finished. This is how I manage my own workflow and it's not at all difficult to handle.
  • niva - Wednesday, May 16, 2018 - link

    I also fail to see the benefit from Optane as cache. The tech is cool, but I want drives big enough to just install my OS on rather than do this caching thing.

    For the scenario when massive ammounts of data must be stored and SSDs are not practical why aren't users reverting to HDD RAID arrays? With things like photos and movies HDD sequential access speeds are perfectly adequate.
  • SkipPpe - Friday, May 18, 2018 - link

    Actually, caching is really quite nice. I used to use an SSD cache (32gb) bck when SSD's were expensive. Many people do not want or like to run RAID or ZFS arrays. They have one large drive (say a 4tb HDD) and they want it to boot fast. Optane does this well. Even guys with a 25 gb boot drive would benefit from caching their large HDD. For example, I have a Samsung 850 256gb boot with a Hitachi 2tb HDD. A 64gb Optane would be perfect for my large drive (basically storage and my steam library). I already have other SSD's for often-played games, but optane makes a lot of sense for someone who wants one large drive (say the new helium-filled massive HDD's), and some responsiveness to frequently used files.
  • RagnarAntonisen - Sunday, May 20, 2018 - link

    It's interesting technology but it doesn't make any sense.

    E.g. it would be good for an old PC with a large mechanical hard drive. There an SSD the same size would cost more than adding an Optane cache. Problem is Optane only works on a modern motherboard and that modern motherboard needs a new CPU. So you're not going to put one into one of those old PCs with a mechanical drive.

    And actually for an old PC with a mechanical SATA drive you'd be better off replacing the drive with a hybrid one. Intel could have built an adapter so you could put your old SATA drive in and that had an Optane cache but they didn't.

    Making Optane an M.2 module that requires a motherboard with a recent Bios that knows how to do caching means they lose most of their audience.

    And as I said above it's all a bit of shame. Optane as a storage technology shows a lot of promise. The problem is that Intel can't make drives with a high enough capacity and is instead marketing it as a cache for older machines. Ones which can't support Optane.
  • Keljian - Tuesday, May 29, 2018 - link

    "Making Optane an M.2 module that requires a motherboard with a recent Bios that knows how to do caching means they lose most of their audience." -- nope, just needs to have a bios that knows nvme and software(eg the optane cache software from intel, the storemi software from AMD, or PrimoCache et al) to drive it.
  • escksu - Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - link

    Simple. Get 4 x 2TB SSD and run them in RAID 5. Problem solved.
  • dullard - Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - link

    Flunk, the reason to get these drives is that an Optane cache + standard hard drive is FASTER and LARGER CAPACITY than the 512 GB SSD. If you don't like larger or faster, then go ahead with just a SSD.
  • bananaforscale - Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - link

    You totally miss the point. An SSD is cheaper and irrelevantly slower and you can use it for caching.
  • wumpus - Wednesday, May 16, 2018 - link

    You can? You used to be able to use a 64GB cache on Intel boards, and you can use a 512GB cache on just released AMD (470) boards [unfortunately, that bit of the review still has [words] under the storeMI section].

    If you can pull it off, a 512GB caching SATA drive makes all kinds of sense for anything you might want to do with this. As near as I can tell, Optane's only advantage is that they provide the caching software without having to hit windows and motherboard requirements. Which makes the whole "optane is so fast" advantage a bit of a joke.

    Wake me up when optane has the endurance to be used with a DDR4 interface (presumably with caching HBM2/Intel system DRAM). This doesn't give any advantage (besides providing the software license).

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