What Is Intel Optane Memory? Full Introductions Are Here [MiniTool Wiki]

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Although there are many kinds of storage devices, such as jump drive, SSD and HDD, this post from MiniTool will give you detailed information about Intel Optane Memory, which can make you access a single drive faster.

What Is Intel Optane Memory?

First of all, what is Optane Memory? Optane is a trademark of Intel's new ultra-high-speed memory modules. The name is specific to the memory itself, not a separate format, but it is currently mainly sold as a dedicated M.2 card.

And it is only compatible with supported motherboards that can use Intel 7th-generation Core processors (i3, i5 and i7 chips in the 7XXX series). Optane memory uses 3D NAND fabrication technologies and various proprietary technologies to achieve ultra-low latency - up to 10 microseconds.

Fundamentally, Intel Optane Memory is a form of disk caching. Frequently used data is copied to fast M.2 Optane Memory storage, while less important data is pulled from the hard drive.

Intel Optane memory is not a type of traditional random-access computer memory (RAM). It's not a technology for regular storage - at least not yet at the consumer level.

Instead, consumer M.2 Optane modules sold in 16GB and 32GB capacities are designed to act as a cache memory bridge between RAM and storage, allowing for faster data transfer among memory, storage, and processors.

For end-users, this speeds up each operation more or less, especially when paired with caching software that intelligently stores relevant data on Optane drives for near-instant retrieval.

How does Intel Optane Memory Work?

Then how does it work? Optane Memory adopts a Least Recently Used (LRU) method to decide what is stored in the fast cache. All initial data reads come from slower HDD storage, and the data is copied into the cache.

Data writes go to the cache first and then get copied to the HDD. Each time a data block in the cache is read or written, its last access time is updated. Finally, the cache is filled and old data is evicted - this will be data that has been idle for a long time.

The larger the cache, the more data it can hold, and the greater the likelihood that cache storage will be used for read and write operations without affecting your slow HDD.

Intel Optane Memory Performance

Although Intel claims that Optane Memory can accelerate slower SSDs and HDDs, the latter is the most common use case. For most practical use cases, the performance of Optane Memory is the same as advertised:

Adding an Optane M.2 memory module to a 7th-generation Core motherboard can improve overall “performance” by 28%. For older spinning hard disk designs, data access speeds can be increased by 1400%, and daily response times are “double” task.

The performance results (Windows startup time, application and game load time, level load time, etc.) that can be obtained by using a 32GB or 64GB module with a larger HDD are similar to a great SSD.

All in all, Intel Optane Memory is ideal for you who want to use a single large HDD in their system instead of a smaller but faster SSD.

System Requirements for Intel Optane Memory

First, you need a 7th-generation Intel Core chip. This is any desktop processor in the Core i3, i5, and i7 series in the 7XXX format. And obviously, you need a compatible motherboard, but the motherboard also needs an Intel chipset that supports Optane and at least one M.2 expansion slot.

If you have Intel-branded motherboards, then these are not necessarily. Here is a list of compatible boards for ASRock, ASUS, BIOSTAR, ECS, EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI and Supermicro. They vary in size, from mini-ITX to ATX, so system builders have multiple options.

Optane memory can be used with any type of RAM module, storage drive and graphics card on compatible motherboards. Optane is not currently on sale on laptops but may be available at some point. And Optane’s software component is only compatible with Windows 10.

Bottom Line

After reading this post, you should clearly know what Intel Optane Memory is. And you can also know how it works. In addition, there are some system requirements for Intel Optane Memory, so you need to take notice before you buy it.

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