Intel Optane Memory vs. NVMe: Everything You Need to Know

intel optane memory vs nvme

In this article we look at Intel Optane Memory vs. NVMe. We discuss in detail Intel Optane memory, what it isn’t, how it differs from NVMe, its shortfalls and benefits. We’ll also highlight the benefits and drawbacks of NVMe.

Optane memory introduced by Intel, is gradually catching the attention of tech enthusiasts as well as PC users who aren’t tech-savvy. You must come across Intel Optane memory when seeking information related to hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid state drives (SSDs) online.

The Optane technology is still in its infancy, so if you are somewhat confused about this fast memory module, you are not alone. Right now, many manufacturers are beginning to incorporate Intel Optane memory into the laptops they produce.

But, is NVMe the same as Optane Memory? Does Intel Optane work with NVMe? Is Optane an NVMe memory? Find out.

What is NVMe?

NVMe (non-volatile memory express) is a new storage access and transport protocol for flash and next-generation solid-state drives (SSDs) that delivers the highest throughput and fastest response times yet for all types of enterprise workloads.

NVMe was created in order to replace the old protocol, while improving performance. It is not just faster than the old protocol, but it also reduces latency. The NVMe protocol is based on high speed PCIe (peripheral component interconnect express) standard. For the uninitiated, PCIe is an interface standard for connecting high-speed components.

NVMe-based drives can theoretically attain throughputs up to 32 GBps, assuming the drives are based on PCIe 4.0 and use 16 PCIe lanes.

The NVMe technology can be found in many devices, including tablets, laptops, phones and servers. It is predominant in solid-state storage, main memory, cache memory or backup memory.

You can install NVMe on any computer with an available PCIe slot. This makes NVMe compatible with PCs and Macs.

Benefits of NVMe

NVMe is a new type of storage system that promises to revolutionize the way data is stored on computers by using a different architecture. Compared to traditional storage systems, NVMe is much more flexible.

It offers increased data transfer speeds and lower latency than traditional storage systems.

Furthermore, NVMe makes data access faster and more reliable. NVMe can achieve up to 2GB/s read speeds and 1GB/s write speeds when connected via PCIe 3.0 x4 lane.

Drawbacks of NVMe

Despite its advantages, NVMe has some disadvantages that are worth considering before deciding on which storage to go for.

The first disadvantage of NVMe is the price. NVMe SSDs are more expensive than SATA SSDs. This can be an issue if you need a lot of storage space or if you don’t have enough budget to buy them in bulk.

Another disadvantage is that NVMe SSDs are not compatible with all computers yet, so there may be compatibility issues with your computer system and the NVMe drive that you purchased.

The last drawback of NVMe is the lack of driver support for some operating systems like Linux Mint or Ubuntu MATE.

Intel Optane Memory: The Basics

Intel Optane memory is simply a cache memory based on 3D XPoint and Intel Rapid Storage Technology (Intel RST) that facilitates seamless data transfer between a laptop’s memory (RAM), storage, and processor (CPU). It is a cache drive.

The Optane memory is just an enhancer (or a supplement) which accelerates boot times and makes processes run faster when combined with a hard disk drive (HDD). That being said, without the Optane memory, your laptop will function just as well.

The following options of the Optane branding are available: 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB.

Intel Optane Memory vs. NVMe: The Difference

Intel Optane memory is simply a cache memory based on 3D XPoint and Intel Rapid Storage Technology (Intel RST) while NVMe is a protocol or interface used by some Optane-based devices.

Is NVMe the same as Optane Memory?

Optane memory is a type of NVMe or non-volatile storage that was developed by Intel. We highlighted earlier that NVMe is a protocol for storage devices. Intel Optane memory is one of the products with NVMe protocol support.

Does Intel Optane work with NVMe?

Yes, Intel Optane memory works with NVMe. The Intel Optane memory is based on the NVMe interface and PCIe bus.

Is Optane an NVMe memory?

As mentioned previously, Optane memory is a type of NVMe or non-volatile storage. Intel Optane memory is one of the products with NVMe protocol support.

Advantages of Optane Memory

The benefits of Intel Optane memory are as follows:

  • It speeds up the system performance of your laptop
  • Optane memory is very responsive
  • Enables faster boot times
  • Enhances file sharing speed
  • It does not compromise the storage capacity of your laptop
intel optane memory vs nvme
Optane memory speeds up the system performance of your laptop (Image credit: Intel)

A significant advantage of Optane memory is that it adapts your computing habits, and your favourite programs, making launching them faster.

Shortfalls of Intel Optane Memory

One of the drawbacks of Intel Optane cache memory is its inability to handle writes of large files effortlessly.

This technology works with Windows 10 64-bit operating system only. Intel might make Optane memory compatible with Linux and MacOS in the future.

Another pitfall of this super-fast memory is that it is only compatible with 7th generation Intel processors (Kaby Lake chips with core i3, i5, and i7 with model numbers in the 7xxx series) or newer models. It is not compatible with AMD and Skylake.

Intel Optane Memory Compatibility

  • 7th Generation Intel Processors
  • M.2-slotted motherboards
  • Windows 10 (64-bit)

It is worth noting that the Optane memory won’t work with PCs that lack M.2 form factor. The Optane memory requires M.2-slotted motherboards capable of hosting the Optane chip.

Optane Memory Transfer Speed

A big part of the Intel Optane’s appeal is its speed: it is a lot faster than the traditional hard drives, and its speed is almost as good as the speed of conventional mid-range SSDs.

Optane Memory and Gaming

As a dedicated gamer, you need a super fast, and responsive system with low latency. You can get a very low latency — up to 10 microseconds — with Optane memory.

In addition, Optane memory cache is a good alternative for storing game data, so you won’t lose your data when you shut down your system.

Frequently Asked Questions – Intel Optane Memory

Why is Optane memory so responsive?
It very responsive because it has an outstanding low queue depth random read performance.

How do I know if my laptop has Optane memory?
The easiest way to tell is to check the specifications of your laptop model.

Is Intel Optane memory better than SSD?
It is as good as SSD when paired with a standard HDD.

Can you use Intel Optane as RAM?
Optane memory is not a replacement for RAM.

Does Optane memory help gaming?
Yes, it does. Optane memory gives you low latency.

How fast is Intel Optane?
Intel Optane is super fast.

Should You Go for Intel Optane Memory?

Yes, but this depends on your needs. If one of your major concerns is being able to launch your web browser, email readers, as well as retrieve data quickly, you may consider Optane memory.

Again, for anyone dealing with many virtual machines, Optane memory may be ideal.