This is the Optane cache drive developed be Intel and Micron. This is the logical step towards non volatile memory storage. While not as fast as DRAM it is significantly faster than any SSD on the market in random 4K access.
What is random 4K access? Almost all data accessed by the host operating system is random in nature. This random data is accessed at low queue depths. This is why Optane is a game changer. It delivers up to 5x the random read performance of flash-based NVMe SSD's at QD1.
While some drives boast higher "sequential" read numbers, chances are none of your data is laid out sequentially.
Large file copies benefit mostly from sequential performance but extracting a zip or booting Windows is where the Optane wins every time.
Optane PCH Installation z370 and x299:
- Create a UEFI Windows 10 boot media on USB and put the RST 15.5 F6 drivers on the USB.
- Install the Optane in an open M.2 slot, preferably the first M.2 slot as other slots might be shared bandwidth with SATA ports.
- Install SSD or HDD on any SATA port (cannot be M.2, U.2 or PCIe device)
- In Bios disable CSM and enable RAID in PCH menu
- Boot to the USB and when you get to the drive setup menu select "Load Driver" and load the RST 15.5 F6 driver.
- Both drives should be on the list, install the OS on the drive attached to the SATA ports (not the Optane)
- Once OS is loaded load all the drivers and confirm by checking device manager for !
- Tune the OS, delete hibernation file, delete bloat, and disable virtual memory.
- Now run "SetupOptaneMemory.exe"
- If SetupOptaneMemory.exe fails to run, you need to run SetupRST.exe.
- Once it installs it will reboot, then open RST and goto the Optane page like the screenshot below.
Once the setup is started it will reboot several times and copy the boot information to the Optane drive, the Optane drive will work only as a cache drive. It will cache applications that you use, so if you open a web browser or world of warcraft a few times it will cache the loading bits of the application onto the cache drive for quicker start times of that application.
Optane memory modules when used as stand-alone SSDs are very fast. They don't deliver sequential performance like you will get from flash-based NVMe SSDs, but who cares? Sequential performance is relatively unimportant for typical users. Random read performance is what matters, and Optane delivers it 5x better at QD1 (Queue Depth 1).
optane and coffee lake
The CrystalDiskMark and Sysmark were run with the 32GB drive setup as a cache drive for a 850 EVO SSD attached to a SATA port. We can see write cache was not enabled for this test, this driver currently has write back cache hidden even though the help file details hows to enabled.
Optane RAID 0
These drives are very fast but a pair of them cannot match the rival NVMe drives in sequential yet cannot be touched in 4K random. The major issue with these drives is being only 32GB in size. It is possible on Z370 to raid up to 3 of them on the PCH and would be sharing bandwidth with some other devices and the lowest PCIe slot so these drives are best to cache a high capacity disk like they were designed to.
Yes this is fast and fun, it boots instantly and you will never see the windows loading screen again.
There is not much of a wait for the next generation of SSD's to hit the streets, these new drive are much larger and faster than these smaller drives. The 32GB drive uses x2 PCIE lanes and deliver this much performance one could only wonder what the real drives will do.