Intel: Optane Offline

August 12, 2022

I group Optane in the Intel “horse feathers” category. There is another point of view, and I want to highlight because different ideas are useful. The none-horse feather angle is expressed in “Why the End of Optane Is Bad News for All IT. The Biggest New Idea in Computing for Half a Century Was Just Scrapped.” (I will not point out the “all” word. I will not remind you, gentle reader, that quantum computer is also one of the big ideas in computing in the last half century. I want to, but I will be restrained.)

The article romps through the history of no file systems, sort of file systems, clunky methods of moving zeros and ones to and fro, and related milestones. Here’s the main point of Intel Optane:

No more installing OSes, no more booting up. No more apps. The OS sits in memory all the time, and so do your apps. And if you have a terabyte or two of nonvolatile memory in your computer, what do you need SSDs for? It’s all just memory. One small section is fast and infinitely rewritable, but its contents disappear when the power goes. The other 95 per cent holds its contents forever.

I understand. I think that the technical idea was darned good. However, the flaw in the Intel method is stated clearly in the write up, just more delicately than my sweeping the Intel method into the pile of horse feathers I favor. Here’s the sentence I think nails it:

But Intel made it work, produced this stuff, put it on the market… and not enough people were interested, and now it is giving up, too.

“Giving up.” Intel has substituted finding a way to make it work for PR and marketing. With the CHIPS coming, Intel will have a chance to deliver, if not at Apple nanoscale.

What makes me nervous about technology outfits today is that “good enough” is now defined as “excellence.”

“Giving up” is working hard to make good business decisions. Intel must demonstrate that it can deliver old fashioned excellence and persistence. You know just not “giving up.”

Stephen E Arnold, August 121, 2022

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