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Frequently Asked Questions for Intel® Optane™ Memory


Last Reviewed: 14-May-2018
Article ID: 000024018

See answers to frequently asked support questions about Intel® Optane™ memory and system acceleration.

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About

What are Intel Optane memory-ready motherboards brands and models?

View lists of vendors and Intel Optane memory-ready motherboards.

What is Intel Optane memory and why consider it memory?

Intel Optane memory is a system acceleration solution for new 7th Generation Intel® Core™ Processor-based platforms or later. This solution uses the Intel® Optane™ Technology, based on 3D XPoint™ Memory Media. It uses the Intel® Rapid Storage Technology (Intel® RST) driver. This new memory media is located between the processor and slower SATA-based storage devices (HDD, SSHD, or SATA SSD). It can store commonly used data and programs closer to the processor so the system can access information more quickly with improved overall system responsiveness.

Intel Optane memory concatenates memory and storage into one virtual drive visible to the OS with an optimized system interconnect. It uses smart software like Intel RST to accelerate performance and responsiveness of the PC. Intel Optane memory is called memory because it uses a new memory media to store information closer to the processor. It's similar to the function of dynamic random access memory (DRAM).

What is system acceleration? What is system responsiveness? Does Intel Optane memory make my PC feel faster?
  • System acceleration refers to the effect that Intel Optane memory has on a computer. It enables faster task completion and reduces the wait time compared to a computer without Intel Optane memory.
  • Responsiveness refers to how quickly the PC completes end user requests compared to the same PC without Intel Optane memory, such as:
    • Start or boot
    • Search and find files
    • Save large files
    • Launch applications
  • Yes, Intel Optane memory makes the PC feel faster, more responsive, and accelerated.
How is Intel Optane memory different from other NAND caching and caching solutions?

Intel Optane memory is a brand-new technology. It's built to address the need for non-volatile, high-performance, high-endurance, low latency, and Quality of Service (QoS). The combination of these attributes in a memory technology sets it apart from anything else.

Intel Optane memory is different from other NAND caching solutions for the following reasons:

  • Revolutionary, new 3D XPoint™ Memory Media performs well even in low capacities (16 GB).
  • Endurance to withstand multiple reads and writes to the module.
  • Leading-edge algorithm in the Intel RST driver creates a high-performance solution.
  • Its user-friendly, intuitive installation, and easy set-up process helps you automatically configure a solution to match your needs.

Installation and Configuration

See the Installation and Configuration FAQ for more information.

Hardware and Software

What is the complete list of software and hardware requirements for the Intel Optane memory series for system acceleration?

View complete details for a system ready for Intel Optane memory.

The SATA boot drive you're accelerating must contain:

  • GPT partition
  • 512B Sector format
  • Windows® 10 64-bit operating system with at least 5 MB of continuous unallocated space at the end of the boot volume
Note
  • PCIe* NVMe* drives aren't supported for system acceleration
  • Secondary/Data drives are supported for system acceleration with software version 16.0.2.1086 or later only. For more information, see here.
  • A single SATA drive with multiple operating systems isn't supported with system acceleration. We don't recommend this use, and we don't guarantee results. See the full requirements in the User and Installation Guide.
  • Dual OS Boot systems--systems with more than one storage drive, each containing an OS--aren't supported and results can't be guaranteed.
What software do I need to install Intel Optane memory and enable system acceleration?

The Intel RST driver and Intel Optane memory-supported user interface is required. Find more information.

The Statistics page in the Intel Optane memory application states there's no information to provide, as I don't have a 32GB module installed.  But I do, so why is this the case?

Statistics only appear once the first scheduled task migration is complete.

Note: Statistics will only show when accelerating a boot drive, the drive that contains the operating system.

To confirm the schedule or run manually, complete the steps below:

  • Press Windows button
  • Type Task Scheduler
  • Under Task Scheduler Library open Intel folder
What type of form factors do you offer for Intel Optane memory?

Intel Optane memory module comes in an B and M key, M.2 form factor that uses a PCIe NVMe* connection.

I have two modules. Can I use them both for system acceleration?

System acceleration is only supported with one module and one SATA drive. Additional modules in the system aren't supported for system acceleration.

What capacities is Intel Optane memory offered in?

Intel Optane memory is available in 16GB and 32GB capacities.

Why would I need 32GB capacity instead of 16GB? What is the difference in performance? Which capacity should I buy?
  • The main difference between the 32GB and 16 GBproducts is the number of applications they can accelerate.
  • The 16GB capacity is adequate for normal mainstream usage.
  • The 32GB module is necessary for power users who often use a variety of data-intensive applications such as prosumers and gamers.
The capacity shown in the Windows* operating system for the Intel Optane memory series module is less than the 16 GB or 32 GB noted on the box. Why is this? The operating system and related tools report a smaller capacity than you see on the box. The module uses a small portion of memory media management and maintenance. The listed density of 16 GB and 32 GB is the raw density of the 3D XPoint Memory Media. The total user capacity remains constant throughout the life of the drive.
Where can I find the NVMe* drivers for Intel Optane memory?

Intel doesn't provide a vendor-unique NVMe driver for this series. System acceleration requires the Intel RST driver version 15.5 or later. If the drive isn't used for system acceleration, it's supported by the standard NVMe Microsoft in-box driver that comes with the Windows 10 operating system.

Can I use Intel Optane memory in my current 6th Generation Intel® Core™ Processor-based system?

No, 6th Gen Intel® Core™ Processor-based systems don't support Intel Optane memory as a system acceleration solution.

Why do I need DRAM if I have Intel Optane memory?

Intel Optane memory system acceleration doesn't replace the DRAM in your system. It works alongside the DRAM to provide the best possible performance.

I already have my memory banks/slots full, do I have to replace DRAM with Intel Optane memory?

No, Intel Optane memory comes in the M.2 form factor and doesn't replace the DIMM/DRAM memory slots. As such, it doesn't impact the current DRAM that you have in place.

I want to set RAID up on my system. Can I accelerate these RAID volumes with Intel Optane memory?

Intel Optane memory can't accelerate a RAID volume. An Intel Optane memory volume can reside in the same system as a RAID volume. 

Note In a system with this configuration, we recommend using the Intel RST application to manage your RAID volume and Intel Optane memory volume.

Performance

Can I see performance improvement immediately after enabling Intel Optane memory?

Within three boot cycles after enabling Intel Optane memory, it takes less time to boot to the OS. For applications and files, Intel Optane memory automatically learns your computing behaviors to accelerate frequently used applications.

What is the power consumption and operating temperature for the Intel Optane memory module?

See the product brief for more information.

Do all applications show an increase in runtime performance?

Intel Optane memory improves the launch time of applications and files that you use most often. Exactly how much improvement varies with each application.

Why does it take a long time to enable the Intel Optane memory 32GB module?

The 32GB Intel Optane memory module is larger, so the enabling process may take longer. The process optimizes your system for Intel Optane memory to ensure the best possible experience. The 32GB module allows more accelerated applications. It's ideal for power users who use a variety of data-intensive applications, such as prosumers and gamers.

I typically run defrag on my HDD to optimize performance. Can I still defragment once it's accelerated with Intel Optane memory?

Once you enable Intel Optane memory, both Intel Optane memory and the accelerated SATA drive appear as one SSD volume to the operating system. As a result, the options for defrag aren't available.

Is it alright to run the Disk Cleanup on my Intel Optane memory volume?

Yes, you can clean unnecessary files with Disk Cleanup. Right-click accelerated boot drive > Properties > Disk Cleanup.

Will Intel Optane memory also accelerate an SSD? If so how much? Yes. You can get Intel Optane memory to accelerate any type of SATA-based storage media, including SATA SSDs. However, performance benefits of adding Intel® Optane™ memory are greater on slower storage devices like an HDD, versus a faster storage device like a SATA-SSD.

Operating System

What operating systems does Intel Optane memory support when used for system acceleration?

Intel Optane memory requires Windows 10 64-bit to be used as a system accelerator.

Is Linux* supported when using Intel Optane memory for system acceleration?

No, the accelerated SATA drive must be running Windows 10 64-bit.

I intend to have multiple operating systems on my system across multiple drives. Can Intel Optane memory boost the performance of multiple drives?

No, Intel Optane memory can accelerate one SATA-based drive that stores the Windows® 10 64-bit OS.

Note
  • A Windows 10 64-bit OS-based Boot drive is required for Intel Optane memory on 7th Generation Core Processor-based platforms.
  • Secondary/Data drives are supported for system acceleration with software version 16.0.2.1086 or later only. For more information, see here.

 

Are Windows recovery and restore points supported with an Intel Optane memory volume?

The Intel RST driver shipped with the Windows* OS image doesn't support Intel Optane memory by default. You can add the Intel RST 15.5 driver to the Windows recovery image before Windows installation. This driver supports Intel Optane Memory. See System Configuration, Installation, and Management on a Computer Without the Operating System Installed for more information.

Other Questions

Can I use the Intel Optane memory module as a standalone boot or data drive instead of system acceleration?

You may use Intel Optane memory as a standalone NVMe* SSD. However, we don't support this configuration.

Can I disconnect my SATA drive after it's enabled with Intel Optane memory and move it to another computer?

No, you have to disable Intel Optane memory before you can move it to another computer. You can disable it via the Intel Optane memory or Intel RST applications. Refer to the Intel Optane Memory User and Installation Guide or video for more information.

What happens if I remove the Intel Optane memory module from my system after I enable it?

The volume (module+drive being accelerated) will go offline to protect user data.  You won't be able to use this volume until the module is placed back in the system.

If I enable, then remove the Intel Optane memory module from my system, does another OS see the associated SATA disk as a data drive?

No, the Intel RST driver sees the volume is separated. It's placed offline and an OS on another disk in the system doesn't see it.

I use the Intel Optane memory module for data. Can I enable system acceleration?

When enabling for system acceleration, all data on the Intel Optane memory module is erased. We recommend you back up all data on the Intel Optane memory module before you enable system acceleration.

What happens to my data on the SATA drive if I lose or damage the Intel Optane memory module?

When you create an Intel Optane memory volume, the SATA disk and Intel Optane memory module pair. If one is missing from the system, the other disk goes offline, the OS doesn't see it, and it can no longer be used.

We recommend to using third-party software to recover data on the associated SATA disk.

Other than more capacity, are there any other differences in functionality or performance between the 16GB Intel Optane memory and 32GB Intel Optane memory?

The main difference between the 32 GB and 16 GB products is the number of applications each can accelerate.

  • The 16GB capacity is adequate for normal mainstream usage.
  • The 32GB module is ideal for power users who often use a variety of data-intensive applications, such as prosumers and gamers.
I have a SATA SSD that supports Opal Security*. Does this security still function when enabled with Intel Optane memory?

No, Opal Security* isn't supported with Intel Optane memory.

What software encryption is available for my Intel Optane memory volume?

Microsoft BitLocker*, the Windows 10 version or later is supported.

Note Enabling software encryption has an impact on system performance.
How do I know if my system contains an Intel Optane memory module? How do I determine if it's enabled?

Within the OS, you can check the current disks in your system multiple ways:

  1. Open the notification area menu on your desktop. Hover over the Intel Optane memory notification area icon. If Intel Optane memory is enabled, you see a balloon message indicating it's enabled.
  2. Check in the Device Manager as noted below.

See How to Determine System Acceleration with Intel Optane memory is Active for more information.

Does Intel Optane memory use write-back or write-through caching techniques?

Write-back is used to optimize for performance and responsiveness. This mode captures most host writes into the Intel Optane memory module first, and it updates the copy on the SATA disk during available system idle periods.

I typically remove drivers by uninstalling through the Device Manager. Is it alright to uninstall the Intel® Rapid Storage Technology (Intel® RST) driver this way with Intel Optane memory volume enabled?

No. Once the Intel Optane memory volume is enabled, the Intel RST driver is required. If you uninstall this driver without disabling the volume first, loss of data could occur.

Is TRIM, or Optimize, still useful in optimizing my Intel Optane memory module or volume?

TRIM, or Optimize, isn't necessary because of the Intel Optane memory module architecture. If you use a SATA NAND SSD with the Intel Optane memory module for system acceleration, Intel RST driver manages it for best performance.

How do I update the firmware for my Intel Optane memory module?

Multiple tools are available to update the firmware of your module. See the available firmware page for more information. Firmware update is supported in system acceleration mode and as a standalone drive.

Related topics
What Software Enables System Acceleration with Intel® Optane™ Memory?
Intel® Optane™ Memory Software and Downloads
Intel® Optane™ Memory Availability and Performance
More Information on Intel® Optane™ Memory

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