Intel Kaby Lake Pentium and Celeron Lack Optane Memory Support

/ 3 years ago

BIOS Update for ASUS 200-series Motherboards Adds Intel Optane Memory Support

Earlier in the week, Intel revealed their first Optane Memory storage product. Built with the use of 3D XPoint, their new storage medium, Optane Memory utilizes a small cache SSD to help speed up disk accesses. Since there are also Optane SSDs as well, Optane Memory appears to be meant for more budget like systems. In a surprising twist however, Intel is restricting which CPUs can use Optane Memory.

As we noted during the launch, only Kaby Lake processors on the new 200 series platform or Xeon C series platform are supported. This is due to an additional 4 PCIe lanes from the chipset which are used with Optane Memory drives. However, it appears that even some Kaby Lake processors such as the lower end Pentium and Celeron CPUs will also lack support. This leaves just the Kaby Lake Core series processors as supported.

At this stage, Intel has not revealed any technical reason to prohibit Pentium and Celeron processors. While there may be concerns about performance for Celeron processors, Kaby Lake Pentiums are merely 200 MHz slower and lack AVX compared to their Core i3 counterparts. In fact, some Pentiums even have Hyper-Threading, giving the same total thread count as the i3. The limit appears to be more for segmentation purposes than anything else.

During their launch, Intel emphasized that the purpose of Optane Memory is to speed up storage IO tasks for budget conscious consumers. By limiting the available market though, Intel may be shooting themselves in the foot. The cheapest i3 with 16GB of Optane Memory costs $65 more than the most expensive Pentium so for the same price, you can get a Pentium and a 240/256 GB SSD. Unless Intel plans to shake things up in the near future, Optane Memory doesn’t appear to offer much if any of a value proposition.

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