One of the unique features of Intel Optane P4800X SSDs is that in combination with Intel Memory Drive Technology (IMDT) the system can recognize the capacity of the SSD as DRAM. It doesn’t have the same latency as DRAM but it is many times more responsive than normal NVMe SSDs. This is due to the special technology 3D Xpoint that Intel and Micron have co-developed which sets it apart from NAND.
What it means for HPC is game-changing. Rather than having workload specific memory and storage nodes, you can create a “flex-node” who’s function can be defined by software. Need additional DRAM like capacity? No problem, just define the Optane SSDs as memory drives and the cluster suddenly sees hundreds of GB of “RAM”. Need more storage? Then simply run the P4800X SSDs as high throughput, ultra-low latency, high endurance storage devices which can be written to many times without fear of significant wear.
For those looking for a flexible HPC solution, this is somewhat of a holy grail, of course with certain caveats (despite its impressive performance, it still significantly slower than actual DRAM). But for a mixed-workload cluster, this represents a quantum leap forward.