Just a week after launching the Optane DC P4800X datacentre SSD, Intel has unveiled the PC-focused Optane 2280, which is intended to provide a storage cache on the motherboard to boost the performance of Intel Core i7 Kaby Lake systems.
And the company claims that a slew of motherboard makers and PC manufacturers are lined-up to support it.
HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer, among others, are ready to ship consumer and business PCs equipped with Optane memory from April, according to Intel.
The company also claims that all the major motherboard manufacturers are ready with supporting boards, including Asus, Evga, Gigabyte and MSI. Pre-orders are starting today and the devices will ship on 24 April.
It follows on from last week's unveiling of the Optane DC P4800X data centre SSD, a 375GB SSD that can be used as memory or storage, but targeted at data centre devices.
The M.2 compatible Optane 2280 connects via the PCI-e slot on the motherboard. It comes with either 16GB or 32GB and uses 3D XPoint memory, a technology developed by Intel and memory-chip maker Micron. Faster than NAND flash, but slower than DRAM, it is intended to be used as a cache managed by Intel's Rapid Storage Technology.
This is similar in conception to the SSD caches touted a few years ago by companies like SanDisk to provide a performance boost to conventional hard-disk drives on PCs at a time when SSDs were expensive.
"Intel Optane memory enables PCs to deliver significantly more performance and faster load times across a broad range of personal computing experiences," claimed Navin Shenoy, senior vice president and general manager for the Client Computing Group at Intel.
He continued: "It will enable new levels of PC responsiveness for everything from compute-intensive engineering applications to high-end gaming, digital content creation, web browsing and even everyday office productivity applications."
While the device hasn't yet been independently benchtested, and Intel hasn't released any of its own figures, Shenoy claimed that Optane would enable a PC to boot up twice as fast and provide storage performance overall "up to" 14 times faster.
"Applications like Microsoft Outlook will launch up to nearly six times faster, the Chrome browser launches up to five times faster, games launch up to 67 per cent faster, and levels load up to 65 per cent faster," insisted Shenoy.
Optane was first introduced at the Intel Developer Forum in 2015 and its commercial release coincides with the launch by rival AMD of Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 devices.
These are arguably the first competitive CPUs from AMD in ten or so years, with AMD looking like it will only ratchet up the pressure on Intel, while undercutting the company either in terms of price or performance.
There are already signs that the release of the Ryzen-series of CPUs is having an impact on prices - at the least, on the prices of AMD's existing devices.
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