Intel would be wise to bundle Optane memory with motherboards

Following MSI's lead.

If you're having a tough time figuring out why you should spend $44 (16GB) or $77 (32GB) on an Optane memory module to speed up your storage when you could put those funds towards a faster SSD in the first place, you're not alone. It's a valid concern, and one that Intel might address by pushing its hardware partners to offer motherboard + Optane bundles.

MSI already went down this road last month when it introduced its Z270 Tomahawk Opt Boost motherboard with comes with a 16GB Optane memory module. According to Digitimes, Intel is considering making this a more widespread thing to drive up demand for Kaby Lake and accompanying 200-series motherboards.

It's said that retailers are pessimistic about the idea because Intel's next-generation Coffee Lake processors will be available later this year. However, assuming these bundles offer a price advantage over buying a motherboard and Optane memory separately, it could help showcase what Intel's caching solution can do. As it stands, it's not as though Optane memory is a hot ticket item. Part of the reason is because of limited support—Optane memory requires a supported 200-series chipset motherboard and a Kaby Lake processor.

There is another benefit here. TechPowerUp has heard from analysts that this could be an inventory-clearing exercise by Intel ahead of its Coffee Lake launch. If that is the case, it could open the door to discounts as motherboard makers clear out existing stock for whatever chipset and socket Intel introduces with Coffee Lake.

In any event, the field is wide open for bundle opportunities. At present there are over 130 motherboard models that are based on Intel's 200-series chipset and support Optane memory.