ntel’s new Optane memory is, according to Intel, an entirely new type of computer memory. It’s based on the 3D Xpoint memory architecture Intel announced back in July 2015. It’s as fast as the DRAM memory found in every computer used today, but as stable as the NAND memory found in the SSDs central to most of your pricier laptops.
And according to Intel, when its slotted into a computer alongside DRAM it speeds that computer up incredibly—giving you the kind of benefits traditionally only seen when you use a solid state drive. Intel claims computers power on twice as fast as they would without Optane, browsers launch five times faster, and games can launch up to 67 percent faster.
Intel Optane memory works as a kind of supercharger for a computer’s storage system. It doesn’t replace any components already in a computer. Instead it’s an add-on, clipped into the motherboard. In a computer’s processes Optane memory sits between the hard drive and the processor—remembering regularly accessed data, like RAM might, but retaining that information even when a program is closed or the computer is turned off.
Currently Optane memory will only be available for desktop computers with Kaby Lake processors and “Optane memory ready” motherboards (check the documentation for your motherboard to confirm)
For people who currently own a computer that’s Optane memory ready, it will fit into the M.2 slot on your motherboard—the same one currently used by the fastest solid state drives available, and as with DRAM memory, more is better. Optane memory will come in two sizes when it goes on sale April 24: 16GB ($44) and 32GB ($77).