How Intel’s Optane memory drives can speed up your PC

Intel’s cutting-edge Optane memory boasts massive performance increases over solid state drives.

Following the recent launch of its enterprise-focused Optane SSD devices, Intel unveiled its M.2 Optane memory modules aimed at consumers.

The devices will be available with 16GB and 32GB storage capacities, and can turn your computer into a lighting-fast machine.

Technology and Performance

Optane storage technology is based on a non-volatile memory technology called 3D Xpoint, which is being developed by Intel and Micron.

The basic premise of 3D XPoint involves stacking thin layers of memory in a cross point structure to optimise density and reduce size.

Unlike solid state drives, 3D Xpoint storage devices do not degrade due to continuous operation.

Intel has leveraged the increased speed and durability of this technology to provide consumers with lightning-fast storage cache solutions in the form of its Optane drives.

The 16GB and 32GB drives are used as cache for applications, meaning you will not notice any performance increase the first time you start an application.

After running an application, however, it is saved in cache and will start up much faster when you next access it.

This means that professional users will experience faster load times and data processing speeds in frequently-used applications, while gamers will enjoy shorter load times.

Due to the increasing size of game files, Intel recommends gamers opt for the 32GB Optane drive in order to maximise accelerated gaming performance.

3D XPoint Design


Users will need the following hardware in order to use Intel’s Optane memory chips:

  • Intel 7th-generation Core processor
  • Intel Z270 series chipset
  • M.2 type 2280-S1 B-M connector
  • PCH Remapped PCIe Controller with x2/x4 PCIe lanes
  • NVMe 1.1 B-M keys
  • Windows 10 64-bit

The specifications above may seem daunting, but most ready-built systems will state if they are Optane-ready.

Desktop builders should consult their motherboard manufacturer to ensure their board can support an Intel Optane drive.

After physically installing an Optane drive, Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology driver will begin using the memory as cache for the system’s slower, primary storage.

The caching system is automatically configured to speed up the programs you access the most.

Intel Optane memory will begin shipping on 24 April, with OEM systems sporting the memory modules launching later this year.

Intel Optane

Future applications

These Optane products are only the beginning of the change 3D Xpoint technology will bring to modern computing.

While the technology is still in its infancy, it already has the potential to scale greatly and could replace slower SSDs and HDDs as primary storage.

Intel previously made bold claims regarding the performance and low latency of 3D Xpoint memory, and the memory has been touted to potentially replace DRAM as a low-latency, high-speed memory using a DIMM form factor.

This article first appeared on MyBroadband and is republished with permission.

Now read: The next generation of RAM will be twice as fast

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