Intel's speed-boosting Optane Memory won't work with Celeron and Pentium PCs

Intel's new Optane Memory is aimed at non-enthusiast users, but only those with at least a Core i3.

IDG

IDG

Intel’s revolutionary new non-volatile Optane Memory wants to make hard drives as fast as SSDs, but apparently not if you bought a PC on the cheap.

The super-fast Optane Memory M.2 drives announced Monday not only require a Kaby Lake processor, but a Core one at that, as first spotted by The Tech Report. According to Intel’s ARK database and Optane website, Kaby Lake-based Celeron and Pentium processors aren’t supported.

That’s puzzling because these new Optane Memory drives target mainstream PCs rather than enthusiast systems, supercharging the performance of traditional hard drive. With an Optane M.2 drive installed, Intel promises speeds close to that of an SSD in some scenarios. The Optane Memory does this by caching your regular tasks, such as launching a particular program or game. The launch time then gets faster with each successive operation.

It’s an interesting idea, and one that appeared easy to implement in Intel-controlled tests we performed at Optane’s launch event.

But if this first round of Optane Memory is aimed at speeding up non-enthusiast PCs, why not support Celeron and Pentium? Non-enthusiasts often buy cheaper PCs that are likely to be running these lower grade processors (and traditional hard drives) rather than the more expensive Core CPUs. Nobody's reviewed these Optane cache drives yet but this restriction seems likely to narrow their potential audience.

Why this matters: While this first release of Optane Memory may not excite hardcore gaming enthusiasts, the future for the technology could still be bright. When Intel and Micron first announced 3D XPoint—the technology that Optane products use—the companies promised nothing short of a revolution. 3D XPoint could function as both volatile and non-volatile memory with 1,000 times the performance and endurance of NAND-based SSDs, they claimed.

This first effort for consumer-grade Optane gear doesn’t come close to that. But with Optane SSDs for servers rolling out in 2017, who knows what the future will bring? The idea of a full-blown, standalone Optane SSD is still tantalizing indeed.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags intel

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Brother MFC-L3745CDW Colour Laser Multifunction

Learn more >

Mobile

Exec

Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?