What Is Intel Optane Memory and How Does It Work?

If you were asked to name the best company for processors, who would you name? There’s a good chance that the first name that would cross your mind would be Intel. They are always trying to put out the best hardware possible.

Intel Optane is no different. It’s a technology that is going to make things a lot faster, but there is one drawback: it’s not going to be available in most chipsets. If you want to enjoy the technology, you’re going to need a computer with a seventh-generation chipset.


What Is Intel Optane?

It’s best to start with the technology it’s based on. It’s based on a technology called 3D Xpoint. Optane is a technology that, for now, is exclusively for Kaby Lake. It’s also something that is not going to work on older computers with old Intel chips such as Broadwell or Skyline.

To enjoy Optane Memory, your computer is going to need to have an Intel 200-Series chipset and an M.2 type 2280-S1-B-M or 2242-S1-B-M connector on a PCH Remapped PCIe controller and Lanes in an x2 or x4 configuration with B-M keys that meet NVMe Spec 1.1. The list continues with you needing a System BIOS that can support the Intel Rapid Storage Technology 15.5 driver.

Optane is also a technology that is going to replace conventional SSDs with large-capacity Optane SSDs. It’s an even faster SSD that will plug into your motherboard’s M.2 slot. For example, you have the NVMe SSDs such as the Samsung 960 Evo.

Optane is 4.42 times faster than a NAN memory-based NVMe SSD with regards to input/output, and it’s also 6.44 times less sluggish.

How Does Intel Optane Work?

Just to set things straight, Intel is calling this Optane Memory and not Optane SSD. Why? Since it’s a cross between RAM and SSD, it’s almost as fast as RAM, but the even better part is that it’s not going to lose data when the power is turned off.

Thanks to Optane Memory, you can have a lot of memory in a very small area. It’s also possible to have quick access to this data as well. Thanks to this, the games you play are going to load 67% faster, and the browsers will load five times faster.

With games, new levels can be pre-loaded on the Optane module, so you won’t have to wait for them to be ready. You can start playing immediately.

As of now, it’s only possible to pair one drive with Optane memory, and it doesn’t support RAID configurations. Time will tell if that will change in the future, but that’s how it stands for now.

You’ll also need to be updated to Windows 10, so if you’ve been reluctant to upgrade, now would be a good time. It’s also going to be ten times faster than traditional SATA-based SSDs.

You can expect Optane Memory to come in 16GB and 32GB options, and it’s going to operate like a high-speed caching drive. If you have a traditional hard drive or a slower SSD, you’re going to notice quite a performance boost. It’s not going to be as fast as the high-end M.2 NVMe solid-state drives, but you’ll still love the speed.


The Optane Memory chips are going to improve performance in a way that, for a while, you could only imagine. Intel still needs to clarify if MacOS and Linux are going to have the plug-and-play capabilities that Windows 10 will have. Are you looking forward to Optane Memory? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Fabio Buckell

Just a simple guy that can't enough of Technology in general and is always surrounded by at least one Android and iOS device. I'm a Pizza addict as well.


  1. Will Optane work with non-Microsoft O/Ss? Or is it another Wintel exclusive?

    Any hints about the price?

    1. As far as I know, Optane is only compatible with Intel’s 200-series chipsets. Both the 16GB and 32GB drives will go for $44 and $77 respectively. Not sure if it’s a Wintel exclusive.

      1. “Not sure if it’s a Wintel exclusive.”
        Based on other articles I have read, it is not only a Wintel exclusive, it is Win 10 exclusive.

  2. I’m getting a Samsung 960 Pro SSD in an M2 slot. Will the Optane memory help me too, or not really?
    Most of the information I’m reading about says it will help slower drives go faster. The 960 Pro is not a slow drive.
    Thanks for any help.

    1. No, Optane memory will not provide any noticeable improvements acting as a cache device for a 960 Pro.

  3. I have a 1TB Samsung Evo M.2 drive, obviously it is fine at 32Gbps. However, my ASRock mobo has 2 M.2 slots, would an Optane drive help my WD Black 1TB HDD 7200 rpm drive any faster? Still so confused by the Optane stuff. I don’t want to buy it if it won’t help that drive run a bit faster.

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