What is Intel Optane Memory?

In their quest for the fastest computer, Intel have developed its ‘Optane memory’, launched alongside the latest generation of core processors. But what implications does this have for data recovery?

Optane is Intel’s trademarked name for a new type of super-fast storage memory modules, and is currently only compatible with motherboards that use the 7th-gen Intel Core processors. Optane memory is different from random access memory, or RAM, and isn’t used for conventional storage just yet, like with hard disk drives or solid state drives. Instead, it’s designed to act as a bridge between RAM and storage, allowing for faster transfer speeds between the storage, memory and processor. Commonly used data and programs are stored closer to the processor, allowing the system to access information more quickly. The idea of utilising a small amount of super-fast flash isn’t a new one; Optane is basically the next generation of Intel’s Smart Response Technology (SRT).

So why not just use this new technology to make faster conventional storage, replacing hard disk drives and solid state drives? While the Optane branding is currently used in cache memory modules for consumers, Intel is selling Optane storage drives for commercial use in data centers. The storage drives are essentially super-fast SSDs, allowing servers access to speedy memory. But right now, the only Optane storage drive, which mounts directly to a PCI express slot, is just 375GB and sells for thousands of dollars. Intel have indicated that a more cost-effective Optane storage drive will be available on the consumer market in the future.

So what happens if your machine with Optane memory dies? Will you lose your data, and is data recovery possible? Can you simply disconnect a hard drive after it’s been enabled with Intel Optane memory, and plug it in to another computer? If your system dies, you will be able to connect your main drive to another system as a secondary drive, and backup your files. However, what you can’t do is boot off of this drive on another machine, since the OS boot files will have been moved to the Optane memory. Intel Optane’s software will warn you if the health of the Optane memory or boot drive becomes degraded, allowing you to backup your data. 

Intel Optane, Data Recovery