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What is Intel Optane memory? | Is Optane memory the same as RAM?

Intel Optane – the bridge that provides quick data access.

By BlueWater Tech

Optane offers quick access to data

Optane Memory is a technology that enhances storage utility and access by adding the element of speed to the capacity of an HDD. Simply put, it forms a bridge between the CPU and a spacious but not-so-quick HDD resulting in faster data access to enable more efficient processing and operability.

It significantly enhances the functionality of a hard drive by lending it the attributes of a fast storage system.

Innovative giants like Intel and AMD have made enormous improvements in the capability of CPUs with the Tiger Lake series and Ryzen 5000s ensuring that processing times are the swiftest today than ever before.

Large amounts of information are processed quickly because of the significantly comfortable bandwidths of the present generations of chips . Sensing the potential to create quicker transmission rates to match high processing speeds of CPUs, Intel has designed a kind of “disk caching” system – Optane memory.

With it’s ability to facilitate very high data transfer rates, Optane memory creates a technology equilibrium in the system by lining up bandwidth and latency, and data access to enable greater computing efficiency.

Intel Optane memory, in a way, energises a not-so-nimble HDD by enabling decidedly quicker boot times, brisk transfers, and shortens wait times to deliver remarkable processing speeds and improved performance.

Intel Optane memory and RAM – not the same

RAM is a short-term storage data storage that allows a computer to access information as and when required in order to run programs and applications. Depending on it’s capacity and speed, a computer’s RAM functions at defined optimal levels.

Intel’s Optane memory is a tool that accelerates the transmission of such data by acting as a bridge between the conventional RAM and the CPU improving the functionality of the system.

It is Intel’s 3D X-point technology construct. It consists of Intel interconnect IP, controllers, and elaborate Intel software.

According to Intel, Optane memory provides speeds 4 times greater than NAND-based NVME SSDs in terms of input-output operations and offers far superior latency, lining up the visuals and audio and transmission to provide a much better real-time user experience. So, the two are actually intertwined aspects that together create more efficient and effective operability.

Optane Memory is not a replacement for DRAM. Rather, it is a system enabler that improves the usability and performance of the storage.

Intel Optane – an enabler

A look at the feature set of Optane memory will give you a fair idea of what this “bridge in a computing system” is capable of,

  • Foremost, it reduces latency present in the system in the form of bandwidth-data access speed disparity. It establishes a better parity by making data available to the CPU, more seamlessly and swiftly resulting in higher system efficiency.
  • Compared to NAND-based SSDs, which have a read/write latency profile of close to 90/50ms, Optane memory, theoretically offers a vastly more favourable profile of close to 20/7ms for 64 GB drives.
  • The most appropriate usage scenario for Optane memory would lie in conjunction with HDDs, but it provides good results when used with 32GB / 64 GB SSDs as well.
  • Optane’s RSL or Rapid Storage Technology carries intelligence that is able to decide which data gets stored in the cache. This means that more relevant data gets precedence in storage. This makes specific data access more efficient.
  • It responds to usage changes or patterns over time and adapts accordingly to provide relevant and useful accelerated performance.
  • Optane is one of the swiftest storage devices around. It is faster than flash drives, HDDs, NAND SSDs, and memory cards.
  • It can store ten times more data than DRAM.
  • Being non-volatile (NV), Optane memory offers a clear advantage of seamless and interruption-free working.
  • It provides persistent storage since it is (NV) or non-volatile in nature. This is in contrast to RAM behaviour wherein data is erased when the system is switched off.
  • Intel Optane memory does not work alongside AMD processors. It is compatible with the 7th Gen i3 processor and above only.
  • It is built with an M.2 form factor.

Optane rivals

AMD’s StoreMI and PrimoCache are two rival accelerators that provide the CPU with speed and vigour to keep the system running smoothly on the fast track. Like Optane, they load your favourite applications more seamlessly and swiftly.

Is it worth investing in Optane memory?

Optane Memory is particularly good if you are not running memory-intensive programs. If you are not budgeting for a high-end SSD, it is a good option to complement your HDD and provides excellent results and returns in terms of speed and efficiency.

However, gaming enthusiasts who run high memory applications would not benefit from Optane memory. Simply put, Optane memory is an excellent option for light to medium users who want to provide an edge to their HDD. For this category of users, it is a very useful solution that delivers swift performance without spending on a high-end SSD.

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