Intel and PC OEMs Misleading RAM Capacity Claim via Optane

/ 2 years ago

Intel and PC OEMs Misleading RAM Capacity Claim via Optane

RAM+Optane Memory Confusion

The prices of memory are currently through the roof with no reprieve in sight. It is therefore affecting the bottom line sales of many OEMs since users are holding back on purchasing a new PC. However, a new shady underhanded tactic seems to be employed now when selling of desktops or laptops involving Intel Optane memory.

Despite the name, Intel’s Optane memory technology is not interchangeable with RAM. These are available in 16GB or 32GB capacities and are used to speed up conventional HDD performance. These use an M.2 form factor and connect to the system via the PCIe bus rather than a RAM module would go to a DIMM slot.

As discovered by ExtremeTech, PC OEMs have now begun including the Optane memory capacity to the on-board RAM size of the advertised products. Therefore misleading consumers into thinking that they are actually getting more RAM memory for their money.

Intel and PC OEMs Misleading RAM Capacity Claim via Optane 1

In particular, ExtremeTech points to DELL and HP claiming their laptops have 24GB of memory (8GB 2666MHz DDR4 DRAM + 16GB Intel Optane memory) in the promotional material and listing.

What Does Intel Have to Do With This?

Here is where things get even shadier. Intel’s FAQ back in June regarding Optane memory was clear about what the feature is about. Even explicitly stating that it does not replace DRAM and explains why it is a ‘memory’:

Intel and PC OEMs Misleading RAM Capacity Claim via Optane 2

Now, Intel’s latest FAQ about Optane memory is a lot more ambiguous, even going as far as stating that it is “similar in function” to DRAM.

Intel and PC OEMs Misleading RAM Capacity Claim via Optane 3

Furthermore, Intel also states that “Intel Optane memory system acceleration doesn’t replace the DRAM in your system. It works alongside the DRAM to provide the best possible performance.” muddying the distinction between the two.

Whether this is a deliberate move to help OEMs move more units is unclear. Especially since it benefits Intel by selling more Optane devices as well.  Did the OEM’s just come up with this sales method at coincidentally? At the same time Intel changed the way they market Optane? From this perspective, it seems like it is highly suspicious and is a disingenuous way to sell more units.

Users who keep up with new technology might easily see through this marketing tactic. However, many casual users are not entirely aware of what Optane is. They could easily believe that they are getting more RAM for their money. Even after reading Intel’s Optane FAQ.

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