Earlier this month, Intel introduced what it called its “most responsive” data center solid state drive (SSD), the Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X series.
Yesterday Intel followed up by introducing a PC version, the Intel Optane module for desktops.
There are two versions: a 16GB Optane module retailing for $44, and a 32GB version retailing for $77. Both are available now for pre-order, and both are scheduled to start shipping on April 24 for customers wishing to install them in Optane-ready motherboards and systems.
Also, starting this summer, several PC suppliers — including Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo — are set to begin shipping systems that include the new Intel Optane module instead of a conventional hard drive. Motherboards that are Optane-ready are already being offered by manufacturers including Asus, Gigabyte and MSI.
The new Optane memory enables PCs to deliver significantly more performance and faster load times across a broad range of experiences, Intel says. These include engineering applications, high-end gaming, digital content creation, web browsing and everyday office applications.
More specifically, Intel says an PC powered by a 7th Gen Intel Core processor and using the Intel Optane memory will — compared with a similar system lacking Optane — power up twice as fast, perform 28 percent faster, and offer 14 times faster storage performance. In addition, applications such as Microsoft Outlook will launch nearly six times faster. The Chrome browser will launch up to 5 times faster. And games will launch more than 65 percent faster.
Intel Optane memory promises to bridge the gap between DRAM and storage.
Optane memory is based on a nonvolatile memory technology introduced by Intel and partner Micron back in July 2015 and known as 3D XPoint. At the time, the two companies said their technology could deliver speeds 1,000 times faster than NAND, the most popular nonvolatile technology, widely used for fast storage. Instead of employing transistors, the new technology makes physical changes in a proprietary material.
The new Optane drives, Intel says, essentially combine the attributes of memory and storage, creating a storage solution that behaves like memory. Intel maintains that6 DRAM — widely used as working memory — is too expensive to scale, while NAND lacks the performance to function as memory.
“These advancements change the way we interact with our devices and the world around us, from gaming to virtual reality and everyday productivity,” writes Navin Shanoy, general manager of Intel’s client computing group, in an online editorial. “It’s never been a more exciting time for the PC industry.”