Despite initial market skepticism, in the following years, Intel’s Optane series was widely rolled out at the enterprise and dedicated server level.
- Intel Optane Memory Review
- Similar Products
- Samsung SSD 850 EVO M.2 (250GB)
- WD Blue 3D SSD (M.2)
- Intel Optane SSD 800P
- Samsung SSD 960 Pro (512GB)
- ADATA XPG SX8000
- Crucial MX200 M.2
- Plextor M8Pe M.2 NVMe SSD
- New Cache, Same as the Old Cache? Optane Memory Hardware
- Differences Between Intel Optane, RAM and SSD
- Intel Optane Vs SSD Vs DRAM: Performance Comparison
- Why Use Intel Optane DC Memory?
- In-Memory Databases and Data Replication
- Virtualization: VMs and Containers
- Efficient Data Replication
- Top Purchase Drivers for Desktops
- Why is it so responsive?
- RAM Memory vs Intel Optane Memory: How Do They Work?
- Which Is Faster: Intel Optane Memory vs RAM
- IS INTEL OPTANE MEMORY FASTER THAN RAM?
- CAN INTEL OPTANE MEMORY REPLACE RAM?
- ABOUT THE AUTHOR
- Is Intel Optane Memory Good or Bad?
- Is Intel Optane Memory worth it? The Conclusion
Intel Optane Memory Review
Optane memory makes computers faster by caching the most-used bits from a free hard drive for faster access. Works, but only under Kaby Lake. For now, it will be more attractive to computer OEMs than PC manufacturers or builders.
PCMag editors independently select and review products. If you buy through affiliate links, we can earn commissions that support our testing. Learn more.
- A caching solution for platter hard drives that shows tangible benefits.
- easy setup (subject to BIOS below)
- Expensive to end users compared to the cost of a low capacity SSD boot drive.
- Only works with the “Kaby Lake” platform and the 200 series chipsets.
- May require a motherboard BIOS update
We’ve had a good fight for two decades, explaining to anyone listening that those kilobytes, megabytes, or gigabytes of RAM in your computer – the things that temporarily store data while you work – should be called system memory. The same units used for long-term data storage on the hard disk are memory capacity. With Intel Optane Memory M.2 memory modules (suggested retail price of $ 44 for the 16GB version, $ 77 for the tested 32GB version), this all gets tangled and gives us a lot more to explain. That doesn’t mean Optane memory is a bad thing. Just don’t think of it as RAM – although it sounds like it is RAM. (See our guide to the best M.2 SSDs.)
On sale April 24, 2017 and is expected to begin appearing as a component of off-the-shelf PCs in the next few months, Optane memory is part data storage and part system accelerator. It is a cache made of solid-state memory that is designed to speed up the perceived response time and speed of the hard drive used as a system boot drive.
Since 1982, PCMag has tested and evaluated thousands of products to help you make better purchasing decisions. (See how we test.)
Spinning platter hard drives are generally much slower in terms of load and response time due to their moving parts. Optane memory acts as a dynamically managed storage area for your most-used files, operating system components, and more, speeding up on-the-fly access based on what you use the most. The concept sounds simple, but even close observers of the PC component market can be forgiven for being confused by this something called Optane because it is associated with a long-awaited type of memory called “3D XPoint.”
The first products that use the 3D XPoint memory technology (pronounced “cross-point”) developed jointly by Intel and Micron are being launched on the market. But until recently, it was unclear what exactly they would be or what markets they would serve. True customer style solid state drives (SSDs) using 3D XPoint technology are expected in the future. While it’s also a 3D XPoint baby, Optane Memory – a large “O”, a large “M” – is a completely different animal.
Samsung SSD 850 EVO M.2 (250GB)
WD Blue 3D SSD (M.2)
Intel Optane SSD 800P
Samsung SSD 960 Pro (512GB)
ADATA XPG SX8000
Crucial MX200 M.2
Plextor M8Pe M.2 NVMe SSD
To make a few things clear in advance: “3D XPoint” is the name of a new memory technology, while “Optane” is the brand name of the products that use it. In addition, 3D XPoint, designed by Intel and Micron, can best be described as a cross between high-speed DRAM and high-capacity and affordable NAND flash memory.
New Cache, Same as the Old Cache? Optane Memory Hardware
Optane Memory is the first consumer product to be based on 3D XPoint. As it turns out, we suspect the first place most PC users will encounter is when looking at the specs of budget-ready PCs (most likely desktop PCs) in late 2017. That said, the first Optane memory products will be available from retailers starting from the date of this review. You can buy them today and experiment.
As reported earlier this month, Optane memory debuts as 16GB and 32GB cache modules. When an Optane memory drive is installed next to the boot drive, both appear as a single physical drive. The modules themselves look identical to modern PCI Express SSDs, as they use the M.2 format and use the PCI Express bus. (See our guide to the best M.2 SSDs). Consequently, you will need an M.2 Type-2280 slot where you can install them. Bigger caveat: They are only compatible with Intel’s latest “Kaby Lake” processors, on motherboards with the 200 series chipset. (That said, most recent motherboards that support Kaby Lake and the corresponding chipset will have an M.2 slot that will work.)
Reason for limiting Kaby Lake, as Intel explained in a recent press event that revealed Optane memory: Verifying it for use with earlier generations would be prohibitive. Intel may have made it run in its previous Gen 6 / “Skylake” environment, but company officials said it would require too many resources to validate hundreds of motherboards and all previous processors. So he’s stuck with the latest platform; this is what he is focusing on now.
Two Optane memory modules will cost $ 44 (16GB) and $ 77 (32GB). The greater the capacity, the more data can be put in a high-speed flash on the module. Per gigabyte, Optane memory is quite expensive; while NAND-based SSDs cost around 30 cents per gigabyte, Optane is ringing around 3,500.75 per gigabyte of cache memory (or $ 4 per giga for the enterprise-class SSD we mentioned earlier). Indeed, a 32GB Optane memory module costs roughly the same as a basic 240GB or 250GB SSD.
Anyone using heavy applications and productivity software will also benefit from Intel Optane memory as it speeds up presentation times, load times, has a great cache and keeps everything running smoothly. If you are presenting your presentation using a computer, it can be great to have this as a backup.
Differences Between Intel Optane, RAM and SSD
Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) is very persistent and fast, but cannot retain data. If the DRAM loses its power source for any reason, the data it was processing will be lost and must be recovered from auxiliary storage. This inability to store data is known as volatility.
Solid-state drives, on the other hand, retain data even without power. These drives are durable but lack read / write speed and have high latency under heavy workloads.
In mid-2015, Intel introduced the Optane brand based on the 3D XPoint (tree-dee cross point) technology. It has high data density and low latency like DRAM, but writes and accesses data like flash memory.
Despite initial market skepticism, in the following years, Intel’s Optane series was widely rolled out at the enterprise and dedicated server level.
Intel Optane Vs SSD Vs DRAM: Performance Comparison
As expected, Intel Optane memory is not faster than DRAM. Due to this factor alone, it makes no sense to use it as a primary storage device. However, let’s describe the fundamental differences between Intel Optane memory, SSDs, and DRAM to highlight its strengths.
Optane DC Persistent Memory Module (DCPMM)
Intel Optane memory acts as a fast way to transfer data between storage and RAM. Intel Optane memory mitigates and streamlines the data transfer process by caching frequently used files.
2 CPUs + 6 DRAM modules + 6 DCPMM
Why Use Intel Optane DC Memory?
Software tools are becoming more and more sophisticated, open source, and require large amounts of computing power. DCPMM offers memory latency with retention persistence. It is ideal for data replication tasks, in-memory databases, machine learning workloads, and maintaining private and hybrid cloud solutions.
In-Memory Databases and Data Replication
Companies employ in-memory analytics to be able to use their data more efficiently. These analyzes provide near real-time insight and new competitive advantages. Due to its instability, Intel Optane DC memory can store large amounts of data closer to the CPU, making in-memory databases faster and with lower latency.
Since DCPMM is non-volatile, you can safely store your database applications directly in the Optane module. DRAM can now access data quickly without having to copy information from disk to memory each time.
Virtualization: VMs and Containers
Virtual machines and containers began to dominate application deployment. When the capabilities of their systems reach their limits, enterprises typically increase hardware performance by scaling up. In this process, businesses use more memory, driving up costs significantly.
These features increase the size and density of workloads on a single server without changing the workloads themselves. In short, DCPMM allows you to deploy more containers or virtual machines on the same server hardware.
The non-volatile nature of Intel Optane memory means that each system restart starts virtual machines and containers much faster.
Efficient Data Replication
Companies are under pressure to keep their systems running all the time. Data replication in multiple locations helps mitigate the effects of a system failure. It also ensures no data loss and a significant decrease in availability. Replicating large amounts of information to another location or locations is one of the most time-consuming tasks that servers perform.
DCPMM is ideal for data replication tasks due to its high IOPS (IOPS) combined with low latency features.
Intel Optane memory is an innovative memory technology that provides affordable high capacity and data persistence support. The significant cost reduction and unique memory caching functions make this module a desirable prospect for enterprises and data centers.
When we turned on Optane, the system slipped to a 16-17 second boot time for most of the remaining five consecutive boot tests. Once it dropped to 13.6 seconds. But that could have been an anomaly, since we booted up the system two or three times after that, boot times were around the same 16 seconds.
Top Purchase Drivers for Desktops
Desktop users rate the three most important purchasing factors as:
Intel predicts most users will pair Optane memory with high-capacity mechanical hard drives to provide an intelligent solution that greatly speeds up system responsiveness and minimizes the cost of high-capacity storage.
Pairing Optane memory with a mechanical hard drive gives you the best of both worlds. Extremely high capacity at a low cost per terabyte and unmatched performance. Intelligent system acceleration: Intel Optane memory is an intelligent and flexible system accelerator that adapts to your computing tasks, making everything you do faster, smoother and easier. Intelligent software automatically learns your computer behavior to speed up common tasks and customize the way you use your computer.
Thanks to the increased speed and responsiveness of Intel Optane memory in a system with a 7th generation Intel Core processor, you can turn on your computer up to twice as fast and improve overall system performance up to 28% faster and storage efficiency up to 14 times faster. Applications such as Microsoft Outlook launch up to 6 times faster, Chrome starts up to 5 times faster, games start up to 18% faster, and levels load up to 58% faster.
If you need even better overall system performance, you can pair Optane memory with a high-capacity SATA SSD and eliminate the SATA read bottleneck.
Earlier this month, TweakTown was invited to explore Optane Memory on Intel’s Folsom, California site, and we can safely say that Optane memory is changing the rules of the game. As long as what you’re doing is accelerated by Optane memory, it will be much more responsive than anything NAND-based SSDs have to offer.
Why is it so responsive?
Breakthrough Responsiveness: Optimize your PC’s responsiveness from system startup to application launch. With a 7th Gen Intel Core processor and Intel Optane memory for blazing fast speed and responsiveness, you can wake up your computer instantly, find and find files faster, and save large files in no time.
The main reason Optane memory changes the rules of the game is its unparalleled low queue random read performance. As shown above, almost all read transactions occur in QD1 or QD2. Random read operations typically account for 70% of all transactions performed while using the computer, and as such, it is by far the most important performance indicator. Sequential performance matters but is generally negligible compared to low queue random read performance in an operating system environment because virtually all data is random in an operating system environment.
Random read performance at shallow queue depth is where conventional flash SSDs are weakest and performance matters most. Optane memory provides 5-8 times higher random performance than flash SSDs at queue depth 1-4. In fact, as the chart above shows, Optane memory essentially delivers full performance in the QD3. This is why we call Optane Memory a game breakthrough.
Reliability: Built by Intel, one of the industry’s most trusted technology innovators, this new class of non-volatile memory is backed by over 30 years of memory experience and a world leader in technological innovation and processor manufacturing.
The Intel Optane memory module will be available for pre-order today and will be available from component resellers on April 24. Join the revolution and get some Optane goodness!
Jon joined the TweakTown team in 2013 and has since reviewed hundreds of new storage products. Jon became a computer enthusiast after starting Windows XP. He dealt with water cooling and testing ATI graphics cards with modified drivers. Jon has been building computers for others for over 10 years. Jon became a storage enthusiast the day he first launched the Intel X25-M G1 80GB SSD. Look for Jon to put consumer SSD reviews in the spotlight.
Optane memory modules can store 1 times faster than hard drives and can store ten times more data than the system RAM. Now, there are a few factors that can help you decide whether you should choose more RAM capacity or less Optane RAM capacity, which are as follows:
RAM Memory vs Intel Optane Memory: How Do They Work?
Intel Optane memory is one of the most innovative storage solutions in history. It works almost like a cache, bridging the gap between RAM and storage. Increases the speed of data access between memory, storage and processing. The IOM Cache feature turns your primary hard drive into a hybrid drive for speed, ease of use, and connectivity.
Intel Optane memory works by using “LRU” or “least recently used” to determine what and where to store. The data reads will first come from the hard drive and then be copied to the cache. When you need this data, IOM will save the access date. When items need to be deleted, old data will be deleted before new ones. This may not even be necessary if you have Intel Optane 32GB memory.
RAM works completely different. It requires a fee and some type of organization to help it retrieve certain data. Some of this data comes from the user and some of how things are organized internally. The capacitor discharges power, so when the computer is turned off or unplugged, data can no longer be accessed. All stored data is now deleted and cannot be recovered.
When the computer is turned back on, the BIOS loads into RAM from the hard drive. RAM reads the hard drive while systems are booting, which will make loading times shorter.
As you can see, these are two completely different things that serve unique purposes. Both can affect the performance and functionality of your computer.
Which Is Faster: Intel Optane Memory vs RAM
Interestingly, RAM is much faster than Intel Optane memory because it has to be. RAM is the first place where temporary files are stored, and it’s quite unstable. Volatile memory will always be faster than non-volatile memory because it is designed to work and back up.
Intel Optane memory is still very fast and makes your PC a lot faster.
Tip: If the SSD is large enough, you can select option A to move all data from the system disk to the SSD. Besides, the “Copy Disk” function also helps you to upgrade your hard drive to SSD. Read our guide for more information: Tried Partition Wizard and Quickly Clone Hard Drive to SSD.
IS INTEL OPTANE MEMORY FASTER THAN RAM?
The answer is no, as RAM is much faster than Intel Optane memory.
RAM is the first place where temporary files are stored and it is unstable in nature. Volatile memory has always been faster than non-volatile memory, leading to the conclusion that RAM is faster than Optane memory.
If we compare the DDR4 2133 RAM chip with the Optane memory, we find that the Optane memory has a transfer speed of 1.4 GB per second, while the RAM can handle 17 GB per second transfer speeds. DDR4 3200 can support transfer speeds of up to 25.6 GB per second. Optane memory can be faster than SSD thanks to 3D XPoint and 3D NAND technology, but if we compare it to RAM, RAM is much faster.
CAN INTEL OPTANE MEMORY REPLACE RAM?
We cannot think of replacing RAM with Optane as it was not meant to replace RAM, but to replenish the storage and speed up the computer. Intel Optane memory is like an SSD that places frequently used applications on a faster drive.
RAM is the primary memory of our systems and is directly accessible to the CPU. On the other hand, Optane memory acts as an additional storage device. Optane memory is connected to the I / O bus or disk controller, not directly to the processor. This reason by itself limits the potential of Optane to be replaced with RAM.
Sometimes when the situation arises our system runs out of RAM, other storage devices act as virtual RAM. You will find that your computer’s performance is delayed as it creates a SWAP file on your storage device, and swapping SWAP files from virtual memory to RAM slows down your computer.
Optane can be used along with RAM when your computer runs out of RAM and because of its caching feature it can store function files in it rather than on your hard drive. Because it provides faster read and write speeds than hard drives, which will help you access your data much faster.
Volatile memory is needed in our system, and Optane memory is non-volatile memory unlike RAM, and therefore cannot replace DRAM in our systems. In the future, it may be possible for Intel to supply DRAM plugs that will fit in the DIMM slots, but in the current scenario, Optane is not expected to replace RAM.
When the computer is turned back on, the BIOS loads into RAM from the hard drive. RAM reads the hard drive while systems are booting, which will make loading times shorter. As you can see, these are two completely different things that serve unique purposes. Both can affect the performance and functionality of your computer.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rodin is an enthusiastic IT writer focusing on Windows trends, disk partition management and data recovery. She loves to write and share her ideas about useful tips and tricks for maintaining personal computers.
If you are looking for ways to improve computer performance, manage hard drives and recover data from various devices, Rodin can provide you with reliable data management solutions.
(d) For internet entrepreneurs, some applications such as WordPress, Shopify, etc do not require much memory than others. In this case, 4 GB RAM + 16 GB Intel Optane should be preferred.
Is Intel Optane Memory Good or Bad?
Intel Optane memory is a good option for light users who don’t run memory-intensive programs. Your PC will boot faster and other low-memory applications will run faster.
Also, if you’re on a budget and can’t upgrade your RAM, you can use Optane along with RAM and a hard drive.
If you are a medium user using a hard drive instead of an SSD, Intel Optane memory can boost your PC’s performance.
Optane is a bad option for serious gamers and other users who use memory-intensive applications.
This is also a bad option for computers that use M.2 SSD as there is no performance gain.
If you have the budget to spend on an SSD and more RAM, you shouldn’t even think about buying Intel Optane. Just invest in SSD, RAM and a graphics card.
Is Intel Optane Memory worth it? The Conclusion
Optane memory is only worth it when you use it with your hard drive. You will definitely notice some performance gains and you will have to spend less money on it.
It’s also worth it for gamers who aren’t serious gamers and users who don’t run heavy applications but want better overall performance and faster startup and load times.
Optane memory isn’t worth it if you already have an SSD and enough RAM in your PC along with a powerful graphics card with enough VRAM.
intermediate / heavyweight players will not notice any significant increase in performance.
Finally, I think Intel Optane memory is not worth it at the moment. You can simply buy a computer with an SSD drive or replace the hard drive with an SSD for better performance.