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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  • PeachNCream - Monday, April 1, 2019 - link

    That seems unusual to say the least. I haven't seen CPU demand increase drastically with disk activity in a very long time, not since IDE hard drives with their big gray ribbon cables were your only choice for storage, at any rate.
  • zodiacfml - Monday, April 1, 2019 - link

    My bad. This announcement seems limited to desktop systems which certainly has more performance than a 15w mobile chip.
    "Intel recently expanded support for its Optane Memory caching SSDs to Celeron and Pentium-based desktop systems."
  • HStewart - Monday, April 1, 2019 - link

    This is not April Fools joke - please look at original article - it has date of 2/20/2019 on it.
  • The_Assimilator - Monday, April 1, 2019 - link

    Good job Intel, now the people who can't afford high-end CPUs also won't be able to afford Optane memory to go with them!

    Seriously though, Optane was always a high-end product for people who already have an SSD and want to make it go Even Faster. For people running Celerons and Pentiums, going from a HDD to a 128GB SSD will be more useful - and probably cheaper - than plumping on 32GB of Optane.

    And even if Optane would be faster, there's another consideration: the price of low-capacity *NVMe* drives has fallen drastically. Case in point, the Megacorp that I work for now buys the exact same NVMe-equipped PC configurations from Dell, because it's cheaper (in terms of time = money) and easier to have a bunch of machines with identical motherboards for imaging and swap-out purposes, than it is to have a mishmash of SATA and NVMe drives. That means that even the lowliest plebs get a 128GB NVMe drive - sure it's a crappy Toshiba or Liteon, but its sequential speeds are still higher than Optane's.
  • twotwotwo - Monday, April 1, 2019 - link

    Possible fit for the Optane/QLC combo m.2 stick they've announced--try to make a lower-end Flash SSD compete with more expensive ones through caching. To be seen if it takes off; one "problem" is other lower-end NVMe SSDs getting cheaper/better over time as well.
  • zepi - Monday, April 1, 2019 - link

    I could easily see this being quite nice for nas-platforms.

    Nice write-through cache for HDD-NAS can really make a difference, especially for NAS manufacturer that includes 10GbE ports.
  • Billy Tallis - Monday, April 1, 2019 - link

    Who runs Windows on their NAS?
  • GreenReaper - Tuesday, April 2, 2019 - link

    It was more popular when Windows Home Server was actually a thing; I think that's one reason Home Server Show forums was so popular.
  • PeachNCream - Tuesday, April 2, 2019 - link

    I'm pretty sure you can just use tiny Optane devices as a cache already under Linux with bcache so Intel's explicit support was never necessary to begin with on non-Windows NAS devices and this latest driver update doesn't alter that landscape.
  • name99 - Tuesday, April 2, 2019 - link

    "ever a prerogative of premium PCs is up to debate (they are in case of Apple's iMac AIOs)"

    Insofar as you consider the Mac mini a non-premium PC (it kinda sorta was until the upgrade this year) this is not quite true. The mini was also available with Fusion drive, that was not a purely iMac feature.

    (It's also possible to construct your own fusion drive on any Mac from whatever combination of built-in or external SSD and HD you like. You can use this to retrofit Fusion onto older machines that came out pre-Fusion. I did this with my older Macs before some died and others could be upgraded to all SSD.

    I don't know enough about how Intel/Windows does things to know the extent to which you could do the same sort of aftermarket retrofit on a non-high-end PC.)

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