Intel Optane memory arrives starting at $44

A caching solution for Kaby Lake.

Intel today announced the retail availability of Optane memory, which the company claims can speed up load times for everything from web browsers to games.

Optane memory is the second product to use Intel's 3D XPoint technology. The first was an enterprise solid state drive, the Optane SSD DC P4800X priced at $1,520 for 375GB. Intel said at the time that it was planning a multi-phase rollout of XPoint, with Optane memory being next in line.

Now it is here and it is much more affordable than the DC P4800X. It's also less capacious and a completely different product. Optane memory is not a standalone storage solution—it works in conjunction with your storage drive and memory. As Intel describes it, Optane memory creates a bridge between the DRAM and storage.

You can think of Optane memory as a caching solution. According to Intel, installing Optane memory can enable productivity apps to load up to 5.8X faster. More pertinent to gamers is what effect Optane memory has on gaming, and for that Intel touts up to 67 percent faster game launches and up to 65 percent faster level loads.

Optane memory is only supported in Kaby Lake systems. Supported processors include a range of Core i3, i5, and i7 SKUs, a list of which you can find on Intel's Optane memory website (scroll down). Intel also maintains a list of Optane memory ready motherboards, some of which might require a BIOS update.

Does Optane memory live up to Intel's performance claims? We're wrapping up testing and will have a full evaluation soon. In the meantime, look for online vendors to start offering Optane memory solutions in 16GB ($44) and 32GB ($77) capacities. OEM systems with Optane memory already installed will be available later this year.