Earlier this month Intel introduced its Core i+ processor brand for desktops and laptops. The brand-within-a-brand setup sees Intel's 8th gen Core i5, i7, and i9 CPUs bundled with its Optane caching SSDs (aka Optane Memory) and sold as the i5+, i7+, and i9+ respectively. The chip giant aims such CPUs at customers who would like to improve performance of their storage subsystems yet won't be investing in full-fledged SSDs. And, after showing up in OEM systems with last week's launch, the Core i+ processors are now also to retail buyers.

Overall, Intel is rolling out the Core i+ in retail, targeting DIY end-users in the U.S., Canada, and Japan. The lineup of Intel’s Core+ CPUs for desktops currently consists of three SKUs: the Core i7+8700, the Core i5+8500 and the Core i5+8400. The bundles include 16 GB Optane caching drives and are priced at $340, $240 and $215, respectively. For mobile computers, Intel is also offering Core i9+ processor bundles, but it remains to be seen whether the company also plans to expand the family of its Optane-bundled offerings for desktops.

Intel Core i5+ and Core i7+ CPUs with Bundled Optane Memory for Desktops
  Price with 16 GB Optane Price of CPU only PN
Core i7+8700 $340 $302 BO80684I78700
Core i5+8500 $240 $205 BO80684I58500
Core i5+8400 $215 $179 BO80684I58400

With its Optane Memory products, Intel is attempting to kill two birds with one stone. Firstly, the company is capitalizing on demand for high-performance/high-capacity storage subsystems that combine responsiveness of SSDs and capacities of HDDs. Secondly, the company is ramping up production of its 3D XPoint memory and gaining experience in its high-volume manufacturing (i.e., improving yields), something that it is going to need to address needs of datacenter and enterprise market segments going forward.

This increased focus on selling lower capacity Optane modules for caching comes as Intel has made some notable changes to their caching subsystem to improve its usefulness. The Optane software can now cache data from any HDD (not just the primary/boot one), opening up interesting usage scenarios with secondary HDDs for end-users who have already invested in a SSD for their boot drive.

Intel says that a hybrid storage subsystem accelerated by a 32 GB Optane caching SSD is 1.7 – 3.9 times faster when compared to a non-accelerated HDD-based subsystem (see the slides below for details). The performance boost only occurs in situations when cached data is used, so a caching SSD is not a replacement for a regular SSD. However, it is considerably cheaper and since it does improve user experience, it makes the Core i+ bundles particularly useful for PC makers.

Last year Intel teamed up with select makers of motherboards to bundle its Optane caching SSDs with their platforms. This year the company is shifting its strategy and intends to sell such drives with its CPUs.

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Sources: TechReport, Tom’s Hardware

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  • YukaKun - Thursday, April 12, 2018 - link

    Sounds like an interesting value proposition. How long is the life expectancy of the Optane drives?

  • shabby - Thursday, April 12, 2018 - link

    What value? There's no discount with this "bundle".
  • YukaKun - Thursday, April 12, 2018 - link

    I don't think "value" means what you think it means.

    But in any case, there is a discount. Minimal, but it exists.

  • iter - Thursday, April 12, 2018 - link

    A few months from now intel might decide to put hypetane in cereal boxes... gotta push it but no one wants it.
  • Hurr Durr - Friday, April 13, 2018 - link

    I wonder if youll still be mumbling about hypetane twenty years from now.
  • Reflex - Friday, April 13, 2018 - link

    Came for stupid comments by ddriver/iter. Was not disappointed.
  • wumpus - Monday, April 16, 2018 - link

    You have to admit that Intel is pretty much teeing it up for ddriver. I'm sure they had leaked info that the next day AMD would be announcing a new SSD caching feature. Have to penalize anyone and additional $40 for buying Intel.

    They aren't really expecting anyone buying an i5 not to have an SSD? Right? I mean, maybe a pentium, or maybe even an i3, but not an i5. This has "fanboy penalty" written all over it.

    Maybe the 470 will suck, but I can't imagine wanting this bundle in a new build. And I'm a big fan of HDDs and would probably enable the feature in a 470 (assuming I could limit it to a specific [old] SSD, or ideally part of an SSD).
  • Reflex - Tuesday, April 17, 2018 - link

    I'm really not defending Intel here or elsewhere. But broken logic should be called out and ddriver started with the idea that all things 3DXPoint/Optane are 'bad' because "evil Intel" so all roads lead to that conclusion for him.

    I have no clue if there is a use for this bundle, for me I don't see it. Perhaps laptop manufacturers will find a use, or OEM's trying to shave a few pennies off while keeping significant storage (HDD vs SSD). Got me. I just know that ddriver isn't analyzing this on its merits, he sees "Intel" in an article title and his posts write themselves.
  • wumpus - Friday, April 20, 2018 - link

    Still no mention of StoreMI in the ryzen+ review. It has its own section and everything, but is one of those "to be named later" parts. And while Anandtech has its own "insert [words] here" notes, I'm not sure AMD has even shipped released StoreMI code (it was said to have shipped within this week).

    Also note that Anandtech doesn't have any 470 motherboards on the list for testing. This must be an extremely low-priority feature (which doesn't say much for this "deal" from Intel, either).
  • ಬುಲ್ವಿಂಕಲ್ ಜೆ ಮೂಸ್ - Thursday, April 12, 2018 - link

    "The Optane software can now cache data from any HDD"
    I would think caching boot files and most used apps on boot drive would be preferred to caching whatever/wherever

    A motherboard that can handle an optane cache drive would be better served using an optane boot drive

    secondary game drive should be SSD

    Cold storage hard drives would never be used enough to need an optane cache

    It seems like Intel is wasting their cache drives on unused data

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