When Intel launched its Optane Memory caching SSDs two years ago, it limited their support to mainstream and higher-end platforms essentially considering them premium products. Whether or not hybrid storage subsystems were ever a prerogative of premium PCs is up to debate (they are in case of Apple's iMac AIOs), but Intel recently expanded support for its Optane Memory caching SSDs to Celeron and Pentium-based desktop systems.

The Intel Optane Memory driver for system acceleration version as well as the Intel Rapid Storage Technology driver add support for Intel’s desktop Celeron and Pentium processors that are based on the Coffee Lake microarchitecture (i.e., belong to Intel’s 8th Gen Core processors). In addition to software support, Intel’s Optane Memory or Optane Memory M10 caching SSDs have to be supported by system BIOS and have to be installed in an M.2 slot connected to PCIe lanes of the chipset.

Caching SSDs store frequently accessed data thus speeding up time it takes to boot an OS as well as frequently used applications compared to a mechanical hard drive. As our review demonstrated back in 2017, a 32 GB Optane Memory SSD brought a noticeable improvement to a system only featuring a hard drive. But while caching SSDs enable storage subsystems that bring together performance of an SSD and a capacity of a hard drive, they cannot guarantee consistently high performance at all times.

Even considering all the limitations of caching SSDs, adding support of Optane Memory to desktop platforms based on Intel’s entry-level processors will clearly make these systems more responsive, which will make them more competitive too.

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Source: Intel

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  • Dragonstongue - Monday, April 1, 2019 - link

    IMO if Intel really really wanted Optane to sell as much as possible they (Intel) need to stop cutting features away to only make available to certain SKU often regardless of the price of such SKU.

  • PeachNCream - Monday, April 1, 2019 - link

    I can understand the need for a product stack and reservation of some features as exclusive (limiting certain things to Xeon platforms for instance to keep someone's i3 out of a server rack, to use an extreme example), but pushing Optane support downward makes a lot of sense. Lower priced systems are more likely to depend on mechanical hard drives so holding back the capability from those systems struck me as a poor move.
  • failquail - Monday, April 1, 2019 - link


    I was always baffled by Intel's restrictions on optane. Especially in it's initial boot-drive only form it only made sense on budget systems with a sole mechanical HDD, but budget systems were locked out, bizarre...
  • Kevin G - Monday, April 1, 2019 - link

    Strategically Intel believes they absolutely need to segment their market to continually increase there profits. This has bitten them in the past, particularly in ultra mobile, where they simply don't understand that at times market share is more important than selling price. Optane is a good technology but it would never catch on with it carrying both a price premium for the parts and the higher hardware requirements. Not only do I agree with the sentiment of stupid market segmentation on Intel's behalf, this is something they should have done from the very beginning.

    Now only if we could get ECC throughout the Core i3/i5/i7/i9 line up...
  • HStewart - Monday, April 1, 2019 - link

    Intel has always put new functionality into upper lines like Xeon and then move them down to lower lines. They did this with Hyperthreading and of course AVX-512
  • name99 - Tuesday, April 2, 2019 - link

    Not always. Centrino, or an integrated memory controller, or even hyper-threads 2nd edition, moved downmarket fairly fast.

    I think it's the new finance-minded (and much less interesting and slower moving...) Intel of the last ten years or so that has really taken this to extremes. Not understanding how computer ecosystems really work, they've basically destroyed the potential of all the new instructions being added because of weak eco-system support.
    (This management lack of support for creating broad eco-systems is one reason I'm not optimistic about Intel's multi-directional scramble into NPU/TPU/GPUs...)
  • citan x - Monday, April 1, 2019 - link

    Don’t get the point of this. Optane is too expensive. With the drop in SSD prices, with what you pay for optane, you could add a 256 go to 512 fab SSD which would be way better.
  • HStewart - Monday, April 1, 2019 - link

    I think Optane was use as test bed on higher end products - moving the product to lower lines means that Intel will drop prices likely because of new technology since Micron is no longer involved
  • Irata - Monday, April 1, 2019 - link

    That's the April fools' article, right ?
  • HStewart - Monday, April 1, 2019 - link

    Please look at the date on original source article - it date 2/20/2019 so the answer to that question is NO.

    A real April foods article about Intel, would be that Intel decided to give up Optane memory and let Micron take over it. Or the entire Xe line is April fools and Intel decided to use AMD Graphics instead.

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