What is Optane Memory? Uses, Pros & Cons

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The Optane memory designed by Intel is meant for use in desktop and laptop computers. This new memory type has all the features and potential to expedite boot time of a computer dramatically.

In addition to that, you will also notice a significant increase in the level of performance of your computer system.

It can retain the data and programs that are used frequently so that it can be used by the processors instantly as and when required.

This article will let you know a lot more about this memory module.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The Optane memory offers high performance and responsiveness as a Solid State Drive.
  • Though the function of Optane memory is pretty similar to Dynamic RAM, it still has some time to replace it completely, if at all.
  • This memory module offers higher data density and lower latency apart from enhanced acceleration solutions and larger storage.
  • Higher power consumption and cost along with some compatibility issues regarding motherboard, processor generation and operating system can be a concern.

What is Optane Memory? (Explained)

What is Optane Memory

The Optane memory was launched by Intel as a simple memory module initially.

This was supposed to add to the data cache between the storage devices like the Hard Disk Drives or HDDs and the CPUs in a computer.

After that, Intel released the Optane-based SSD, or Solid-State drives.

The characteristics and functioning of this Optane memory are:

  • It comes in a module form and ensures an expensive and unique SSD-style speed and
  • It also promises high responsiveness of the different components in the systems, especially those that are furnished with slower and cheaper spinning HDDs.

However, the Optane memory module will not be able to replace the conventional DRAM, at least any time soon, though the purpose of this memory is much similar to it.

Optane memory works in a unique way. It combines more advanced Memory Management Software like Rapid Storage Technology or RST of Intel with the new kind of memory media such as the 3D XPoint.

It also helps in merging the storage and memory of the computer so that it looks like and performs like a solo virtual drive.

This combination of the two, eventually, improves the speed of the overall computer system significantly.

This has reduced the bottlenecks that most of the high-end gamers experience due to high latency and delay between an I/O request and low-responding drives.

Apart from ensuring a lower latency, this combination also promises higher data density in comparison to the traditional DRAM.

This provides larger storage capacity and a much better acceleration solution.

This means that you will be able to:

  • Search for and save files in much quickly
  • Boot-up your system faster and
  • Launch different programs more easily and quickly.

However, there is a bit of a concern. The Optane memory modules will only work with the seventh-generation or later I-Core processor platforms of Intel.

You will also need a special M.2-slotted motherboard that is able to host this Optane chip.

Ideally, the memory storage system of a computer holds the data on either a Solid-State Drive or a Hard Disk Drive.

The SSD acts like a solid memory chip and the HDD is actually the spinning physical arm of the computer.

The mechanical hard disk reads and writes the data and information.

The new and advanced Intel Optane memory hardware will make the best use of this both and combine them to ensure a faster booting up and a higher level of performance of your system.

It will help even a large low-cost HDD to achieve speeds like an expensive SSD.

A RAM will surely boost up the performance of your system by enabling the processor to handle more tasks at a time but it is far better to invest on Optane memory than adding more RAM.

However, to run Optane memory, there are a few basic requirements that you should meet and that includes:

  • A 7th generation or newer Intel Core processor
  • A chipset of Intel 200 Series or newer and
  • Windows 10 x64.

The system accelerator of this memory will enhance the performance and provide maximum storage.

Most importantly, you will get the best processing power at a much lower price.

The technology of this system accelerator of Optane ensures reduced wait times and faster completion of tasks.

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These tasks are ideally the requests made by the end-users and include:

  • Power on
  • Boot up
  • Search files
  • Transfer small and large files
  • Save them
  • Launch different applications and
  • Load games.

The Optane memory coupled with the high-capacity storage devices will enable these tasks with its adaptable technology.

This will learn things quickly and remember them when the system is turned off for faster operation when you switch it on again.

It is all due to the unique combination in design of Optane memory that includes:

  • Intel 3D XPoint memory media
  • Interface hardware
  • Software IP and
  • Innovative system memory controller.

This combination makes computing faster when you use documents, play games, watch videos, draw pictures, or use any other applications on your computer.

It will ensure lower latency, shorter wait times, faster startup, and, most importantly, a better and more enjoyable user experience.

This is because the Intel Optane memory will complement the DRAM or Dynamic Random-Access Memory in your system.

The Optane memory is much different from the DRAM. It is a smart memory technology that works differently than the DRAM and can retain data for a long time.

It will remember the files, programs, applications and data that are mostly used, even after you switch off your computer. On the other hand, the DRAM cannot do so.

However, there is no reason to believe that the Intel Optane memory can replace the DRAM altogether.

In fact, both these should work in tandem so that your system can access data much faster and be more responsive.

This is not possible when your system works with the DRAM alone.

Statistics say that, when you combine a 16 GB Intel Optane memory with an HDD that comes with a 16 GB DRAM, the performance and responsiveness will be just double as compared to any of these working alone.

This is for the desktop computers. As for the laptop computers, this will be even more than double.

The immense volume of data stored by the Intel Optane memory can provide valuable insights to different organizations in real-time.

This is done by improving the transactional workloads and big data applications.

Different organizations that are benefited by the Intel Optane technology solutions are:

  • The retailers, who can quickly detect fraud recognition patterns
  • The financial institutions, who can expedite their trading and transaction speed
  • The researchers, who can analyze large sets of complex data much easily and quickly and
  • The healthcare organizations that deal with multifaceted jobs such as disease tracking.

With all these features and benefits, it is clear that, with the evolution of technology, Intel Optane memory will provide limitless opportunities to those innovative minds when they use it.

The performance of your system is accelerated by the Optane memory by:

  • Making your day to day tasks more responsive by 2.1 time
  • Making you wait less and work more and
  • Loading large amounts of data or media files in its vast storage area up to 1.6 times faster.

This means that it will be of much help to those creative entrepreneurs and users of computers for writing, coding, designing, editing photos, or rendering videos. Even the gamers can unleash their gaming prowess.

There are two different capacities of Intel Optane memory that are mostly used: 16 GB and 32 GB. However, there is a 64 GB module available as well.

The 16 GB Optane memory module is great to run multiple applications or switching between tasks frequently. It will also help in different other jobs such as:

  • Conventional usage
  • Enhanced boot times
  • Emails
  • Slide presentations
  • Web access
  • Office work
  • Improving work productivity and
  • Virus scanning.

On the other hand, the Intel Optane 32 GB memory module will be most suitable for expediting game loading, creating and transferring bigger media files and running applications that are much more data intensive.

Apart from these significance benefits, the 32 GB Optane module will also help in:

This memory of higher capacity is best for the professional users of computers and gamers alike.

You can upgrade your existing system with a new Optane memory module, if your system is compatible for it.

Otherwise, you will need to purchase a new desktop or laptop computer that comes with this memory already installed in it.

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Uses of Optane Memory

The primary purpose of using an Intel Optane memory is in the new laptops and computers that helps in boosting the booting time and level of performance.

However, you can also use it as a standalone data drive or for booting your system instead of structure acceleration.

For this you will need to use a standalone NVMe SSD.

You can even use this memory to accelerate RAID volume provided you use an Intel RST application. This will help you to manage the RAID and Optane memory volume, both, more effectively.

Remember, you cannot use Optane memory with systems that come with Opal Security as this will not support it.

The best use of Optane memory is with Windows 10 version and Microsoft BitLocker.

Both these will support the memory module and enhance the speed and performance of your system significantly.

The Pros of Optane Memory

1. Faster acceleration capabilities

Using Optane memory will not only enhance the speed of the systems that already have faster operating SSDs but it also has the capability to increase the speed in those systems that are equipped with the traditional spinning HDDs.

This means that Optane memory will enable you to launch data for discrete programs much easily and quickly.

It will also help in storing them so that the system starts faster as well.

2. Adaptability

The Optane memory is highly adaptable. It will know by itself how exactly it can use your system in the best possible way.

Apart from that, it will also learn about the programs and data that you use more frequently and place their launch data in the front end of the line.

This will once again increase the performance level and speed of your computer system, significantly reducing the wait time.

3. A cheaper and effective alternative

The Optane memory module is a much cheaper and more efficient alternative to those traditional dual drive systems.

These are the systems that are furnished with both a small SSD that helps in booting the system up as well as a bigger HDD that is used for mass storage of data primarily.

4. Functionality

When you use the Optane memory, it will accelerate the initial boot times along with the launch times of every program.

Apart from that, it is also designed to pre-fetch emails or even a content of a page from your favorite and most frequented websites.

For the gamers, such speedy access to specific data from large volumes is highly beneficial.

They will not need to waste time in searching and waiting for their 4 TB drives to locate the game data that mostly ranges between 5 Gb and 10 GB.

5. A perfect combination

The 3D technology, on which Optane memory is based, increases its potential even further.

The combination of this memory module with 3D XPoint or 3D Cross Point as it is pronounced, seems to be a wise joint-decision of Intel and Micron.

This combination seems to be perfect to fill the functional gaps between the non-volatile and less costly NAND Flash and the relatively expensive and volatile DRAM.

6. Help for businesses

Businesses such as SMBs, enterprise and even home offices will have everything done on their computers at quick speed.

With faster boot times, Optane will launch every program faster whether it is the web browsers or email readers, for slide presentations or a remote meeting software.

This means that all typical business computers, desktop or laptop, will have greater productivity.

7. Cost savings

Whether it is for any in-house jobs or field work including product demonstration and sales presentation, businesses will be able to save a considerable amount using the cheaper HDD systems that will run as fast as the SSD systems.

Optane will ensure an SSD-style performance for the systems making it an affordable and high ROI upgrade especially for the small business owners.

Businesses, both small and large enterprises, will also have a lot of new options.

8. Helps for gamers

The competitive and high-end gamers will also benefit using Optane memory.

It will make their system most responsive and fastest for rendering complicated graphics, game-action I/O, messaging, handling in-game commentary and much more.

In addition to that, gamers who are on a budget will not have to invest a fortune on installing expensive and big hard drives of more than 20 GB and with install sizes of more than 100 GB to store their games.

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9. Balance between cost and performance

With Optane memory the computer manufacturers now do not have to compromise or choose between responsiveness and speed of the systems to keep the cost of it low.

They can manufacture systems of greater capacities using less expensive HDDs that will work just like an SSD equipped system.

10. The bigger cache

The 16 GB or 32 GB Optane memory module provides a lot more area for holding data that is ingested by the game engine in large amounts constantly.

This will smoothen up the game input-output. Moreover, the Optane module being non-volatile, the game-play data stored in it will not be lost when the power of the system is turned off.

11. Optimize EUC

EUC or End-User Computing can be dramatically and easily optimized by Intel Optane memory, especially for the enterprises.

These are the systems and computer platforms that allow the users who are not programmers to produce working computer applications.

12. Streamline workloads

Whether it is personal or business, Intel Optane memory will reduce your workloads with better and faster computing.

You will gain that desired competitive edge that will help you to improve your productivity across any given working environment.

You will accomplish much more and better results in quick time. As for the students and other professionals, the memory will help them to switch between typing a text and jotting down any handwritten note, as and when required.

They can even upload these to retrieve them at a later time.

13. Easy to install

If you have the appropriate software and hardware in your system, it is very easy to install and configure Intel Optane memory. All you need is a M.2 slot.

The Cons

14. Expensive

Intel Optane memory by itself will cost you more than any average SSDs.

For example, a 32 GB Intel Optane memory stick will cost you to the tune of approx $42 but a 256 GB Silicon Power SSD, on the other hand, will cost you just $38.

The cost of the 480 GB Intel Optane SSD will cost you as much as $549.

15. Compatibility

There are some limitations in using Intel Optane memory. You cannot use it in any and every device as that will not be compatible with it.

You will need specific motherboards and systems that come with 7th generation Intel i-Core processors or newer.

You will also need a Windows operating system, preferably Windows 10 x64.

16. Power consumption

The Intel Optane memory will consume power even when it is idle. This can be up to 1 watt.

This is a serious issue for the laptop consumers because such power drain, no matter how small and insignificant it is, will cause serious negative effects on the battery life.

17. Drive acceleration

You will be able to accelerate only the primary drives in your computer system when you use the Intel Optane memory.

This means that, if the HDD is not the primary drive of your system, you will not be able to boost up its performance.

However, you will be able to accelerate the SSD but that will not be as significant as the rate and amount of acceleration of the HDD.

18. Lack in performance

Since the Optane memory is built on SSD, the level of performance is much lower as compared to the NVMe products currently available in the market.

This is because the capacities of these drives are much smaller as compared to the modern standards.

This means that it will have a lower storage option which may be preferable for some but not a good choice for all.

Conclusion

The Intel Optane memory is still in its developing phase but it has all the potential to take over the SSD game, given the fact that constant changes are being made in it by Intel.

Though there are a few downsides to it, this is a worthy feature to invest on if you want to boost up the primary storage drives in your computer significantly.

About Taylor Swift

Taylor SwiftTaylor Swift, a UOPEOPLE graduate is a freelance technology writer with in-depth knowledge about computers. She loves to play video games and watch movies when she has no writing assignments. Follow Her at Linkedin