Intel's Upcoming Optane Memory Speeds Up SATA Drives

Improving speed while maintaining large storage capacities is now a must for a rising number of use cases: virtual reality, gaming, content creation and many others.

There was intriguing news for storage admins Jan. 3: Intel may have created the missing link between high-capacity, slower-moving mechanical SATA disk drives and actual speed.

The world's largest processor maker unveiled its new Optane Memory modules and a corresponding Intel Optane Memory Ready program with the idea that this new-gen bridge eventually will rescue IT systems on an island; those heavily invested in HDDs and not ready to switch all the way over to solid-state drives for production purposes.

Intel Optane memory is a new class of non-volatile memory (NVM) device which accelerates HDD client systems to enable the high-performance experiences users now require with cloud-service and big data applications, the company said.

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By pairing either a 16GB or 32GB Intel Optane memory module (via an M.2 motherboard slot) with a large-capacity hard drive or SATA solid state drive, Intel claims users can obtain SSD-like data movement speed while maintaining capacity and affordability.

SATA (serial ATA) storage drives are internal and cabled directly to the motherboard.

Improving speed while maintaining large storage capacities is now a must for a rising number of use cases: virtual reality, gaming, content creation and video editing and many others.

SATA drives now can hold multiple terabytes of content but are relatively slow in ingesting and enabling outflow of data.

Intel said Optane memory will be available in Q2 2017 as an option for new Intel-based client platforms, including Intel 7th Gen Core (Kaby Lake), and as a standalone component. Platforms and motherboards supporting Intel Optane technology will be labeled Optane Ready, indicating easy installation and use of Intel Optane memory, Intel said.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 10 years and more than 3,500 stories at eWEEK, he has distinguished...