Intel Optane is an Intel-exclusive technology that enhances HDD performance by caching critical data on the CPU and NVM storage.
In almost every way imaginable, the PC hardware landscape has shifted dramatically over the past decade. It’s easy to forget that storage solutions have also evolved and improved greatly over the past few years, given the widespread focus on CPUs and GPUs.
Although hard disk drives were once the only real option for long-term storage in desktop PCs, solid-state drives quickly began pushing them back once they became widely available.
However, Intel Optane is another storage option that has been largely ignored in recent years. What is this technology, exactly, and should a 2022 gamer consider purchasing it for their computer?
Keep reading to find out the answer to that question!
Intel Optane – What Is It?
Let’s back up a bit and define Intel Optane.
Intel’s Optane, formerly known as 3D XPoint, is a proprietary storage technology introduced in 2017 with the goal of closing the performance gap between hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs).
And what method did it plan to use?
By keeping track of which files and functions you use most often, Optane is able to improve HDD performance and optimize the user experience by combining the processing power of the CPU with NVM memory.
Optane acts as a sort of extended cache for your HDD, storing data that you’d need to access quickly in memory chips that are even faster than the HDD itself. In the end, you benefit from both the fast read/write times of an SSD and the large storage capacity and low cost of an HDD.
What is system acceleration?
The improvement in performance brought about by Intel Optane technology is often referred to as “system acceleration.” This intelligent memory system allows for quicker task completion and shorter wait times than computers without Intel Optane.
“Responsiveness,” as used by Intel, refers to how much faster a computer is able to process requests from end users when equipped with Intel Optane memory.
Examples of such demands could be:
- Turn on, begin, or boot up
- To look for and locate data
- Keep and send huge files
- Start up software
- Activating New Game Level
Together, Intel Optane memory and a large capacity storage device provide lightning-fast acceleration and massive amounts of storage space.
How does Intel Optane memory work?
How does Intel Optane work exactly? We’ve established that it’s a smart memory system that boosts your computer’s performance and responsiveness. In short, the flexible technology quickly learns and remembers your most common actions, such as starting up, searching for files, and launching applications, even when the power is out.
The company claims that Optane technology functions thanks to the “unique combination of Intel 3D XPointTM memory media with an Intel-built advanced system memory controller, interface hardware, and software IP” . Data can be stored and saved at speeds far exceeding those possible with conventional computer architecture using their 3D XPoint (pronounced cross-point) nonvolatile memory technology.
What is non-volatile memory?
Data stored in a computer’s “nonvolatile memory” (NVM) remains intact even if the device’s power is turned off. Unlike the volatile form of RAM, which constantly needs power to retain data, nonvolatile storage doesn’t need to be powered in order to keep its contents.
Intel Optane technology, which makes use of 3D XPoint, brings high-speed, high-capacity data storage closer to the computer’s processor. Compared to NAND flash memory (another type of NVM storage technology), it is said to have latency up to a thousand times lower and endurance exponentially higher.
Why does Optane memory make computing faster?
The smart, flexible system accelerator learns what you use most and places that data in close proximity to the computer’s processors, making them faster to access when needed.
When you next attempt to launch one of these applications, your computer will boot up more quickly and with less delay. Less waiting around means a more pleasant computing experience all around.
Intel Optane memory vs. a solid state drive (SSD) or hard disk drive (HDD)?
Intel Optane memory lets you get the most out of your setup by supplementing your DRAM, or dynamic random access memory, regardless of whether you run on a lightning-fast SSD or a high-capacity HDD.
What is DRAM?
Digital Random Access Memory (DRAM) is a type of volatile memory that stores the parameters and outcomes of computations temporarily. Data stored in dynamic random access memory (DRAM) is deleted whenever the power is removed from a computer with this type of memory.
How is Optane different from DRAM?
Optane memory functions otherwise. It’s an advanced storage system that can keep track of the files, apps, and programs you use the most over time. However, it retains the information even after the computer is turned off, unlike DRAM. This system is not meant to replace DRAM, but rather to work in tandem with it.
Your computer will be more responsive and have faster data access with both Optane technology and volatile memory than with just DRAM. An HDD with 16GB of Intel Optane memory is up to twice as responsive as an HDD with 16GB of DRAM on a desktop and more than twice as responsive on a laptop.
Intel Optane memory allows you to work faster and more efficiently than on a computer with only an HDD.
HDD and SSD Dual-Drive Systems
With Optane technology and a dual-drive setup on an HDD with automatic access to frequently accessed data, you can get more done.
Intel Optane memory does not replace random access memory (RAM), but rather improves the performance of your computer’s regular memory.
Benefits of Intel Optane memory
Intel Optane memory expands storage capacity and reduces loading times, opening up possibilities for enterprise servers in a variety of markets and for individual PC users.
Optimize end-user computing for enterprises
The term “end-user computing” (EUC) is used to describe computer systems and platforms that are designed to make it possible for users who are not computer programmers to develop and deploy functional software applications.
An accountant using Microsoft ExcelTM to automate and streamline their workday is an example of end-user computing (EUC), which is a broad term but has the overarching context of giving end-users more control over their computing environment without the real aid of programmers. As more businesses experiment with virtualized service delivery, EUC powered by Intel Optane is changing the industry.
The proliferation of digital interfaces and connected devices has resulted in a deluge of fresh information. The data needs a place to live and a method to be analyzed before it can be put to good use.
Intel Optane memory improves big data applications and transactional workloads in real time, allowing for the transformation of massive amounts of data into actionable insights.
Technology solutions based on Intel Optane could be implemented, for instance, by
- For merchants to quickly spot patterns in fraud detection
- Fast-Trade Financial Institutions
- Researchers can speed up the analysis of massive datasets by using this method.
- Institutions in the medical field for handling difficult tasks like disease surveillance
The University of Pisa used Intel Optane SSDs as memory in a real-world application to cut MRI exam times in half, from 40 minutes to 2. As Optane develops and improves, it becomes clear that its uses are as boundless as the imaginations of those who put it to good use.
What can Optane memory do for me?
Streamline personal workloads
With Intel Optane, you can make your computer smarter by training it with your habits. It leverages individual preferences in computing to provide tangible gains in workplace productivity.
With an Optane cache drive placed closer to the processor, your applications will launch and load faster, allowing you to get more done in less time.
Pre-enabled touch screens on all-in-one desktops or 2-in-1 laptops with Intel Optane memory allow students and professionals to quickly switch from typing to jotting down handwritten notes, with the added convenience of uploading said notes for later retrieval.
According to Intel, Optane boosts performance by doing the following:
- Large media files can be loaded up to 1.6 times faster, and storage space is plentiful.
- Increasing the responsiveness of common tasks by as much as 2.1 times.
Wait less, make more
Intel Optane technology is beneficial for entrepreneurs who use computers to write, code, design, edit photos, or render videos. It saves your most recently used software and application settings even when the power is off, allowing you to quickly access what you need whenever inspiration strikes.
With a CPU that needs less time loading and more time computing, you can try out new ideas and boost output. Larger memory capacities mean less stress on your desktop or workstation’s storage system from even the heaviest workloads.
Unleash your gaming greatness
HP’s OMEN gaming PC with Intel Optane eliminates slowdowns and improves responsiveness. You can always expect to be the first one on the battlefield thanks to the lightning-fast launch and level-load times of your favorite games.
When loading times are reduced, gameplay is improved. Optane uses intelligent memory to speed up your system, allowing you to enjoy a seamless, high-quality gaming experience without the typical hiccups that slow down processors. Now you can stop staring at the screen waiting for games to load and start actually playing them.
What are the available capacities of Intel Optane memory?
Both 16GB and 32GB of Intel Optane memory can be installed in devices that support it to increase performance.
Intel Optane 16GB Module
This memory module is perfect for multitasking and switching between applications with ease. It can aid in routine tasks like:
- Enhanced startup speeds
- Common usage
- Communication via email or formal presentations
- Efficiency at Work or the Office
- Connectivity to the Internet
- Scan for viruses
Intel Optane 32GB Module
There is also a 32GB option for Intel Optane memory. This capacity is perfect for speeding up the loading times of games, operating data-intensive programs, and making or transferring large media files.
Other advantages to performance include:
- Creating a Cartoon
- Retouching of images and sounds
- 3D Computer-Aided Design and Modeling
- Uses for Virtual Reality
- Professional gamers
Which computers come with Intel Optane pre-installed?
A memory module with this revolutionary technology can be purchased separately, but nowadays you can buy a desktop computer or laptop with it already installed.
The following are a few of the best HP computers that have Intel Optane:
1. HP ProBook 440 G5 business laptop
The optional 8th-generation Core i5/i7 Quad Core processors in this powerful work laptop turn seconds into nanoseconds. The HP ProBook 440 G5 business laptop features 16GB of Intel Optane memory, allowing for unprecedented levels of productivity in the workplace.
2. HP OMEN 880 gaming desktop
The HP OMEN 880 gaming desktop is the best option for those who want to dominate online gaming rankings. Stay cool under pressure with the help of Intel Optane technology and a 120 mm front fan.
3. HP Pavilion 27-inch AiO desktop
The stunning HP Pavilion 27-inch all-in-one desktop, with its ultra-slim profile that takes up minimal space while delivering maximum power, is the ideal platform for experiencing storage acceleration.
Is Optane Worth It In 2022?
So, Intel Optane sounds fantastic in theory, but the next question that naturally follows is whether or not it is worthwhile to include in a modern gaming PC build.
Optane bridges the gap between hard disk drives and solid-state drives, but by 2022, its appeal to gamers will have waned. Why? The fact that solid-state drives (SSDs) are now readily available to the general public was mentioned up front.
The disparity between the cost of SSDs and HDDs has narrowed considerably since Intel Optane’s introduction to the market. You could either spend a lot on a large SSD and use it to store all of your games and other media, or you could get a smaller SSD at a more reasonable price and use an HDD for the rest of your data.
The result was a proliferation of hybrid storage solutions for gaming rigs, with low-capacity SSDs housing games and other frequently accessed data and higher-capacity HDDs housing everything else. Having said that, I can see why Optane might have been appealing back then; however, with the availability of 1 TB SSDs for under $100, it has become quickly outdated.
However, in this case, the term “obsolete” is being used in reference to gaming computers. Optane still has applications; for example, combining Optane with an HDD can be more cost-effective for servers and workstations than using either component alone.
And with that, I will conclude this article. Despite its continued existence, Optane’s impact on the gaming community has been brief, and SSDs continue to reign as the preferred storage medium for PC gaming rigs.
In light of the foregoing, if you’re considering increasing the amount of space on your personal computer, you should check out our SSD and HDD buying guides, as they will undoubtedly contain options that meet your requirements. An external solid-state drive (SSD) or hard disk drive (HDD) may be more suitable if portability is a priority.