Chinese PC manufacturer Lenovo is the first to announce laptops with Intel Optane SSDs. They make use of the new 3D Xpoint memory that Intel and Micron have developed together. The SSDs have a capacity of 16GB and are used for caching and are combined with a regular HDD.
The Optane SSDs should speed up some of Lenovo’s upcoming ThinkPad laptops, according to AnandTech. The Kaby Lake CPU powered laptops are scheduled for January and February next year, but it’s unclear if the Optane SSDs are also available at launch.
It’s likely that Lenovo uses the Optane Memory 8000p module of which the first information became available in October this year. This module is available in capacities of 16GB and 32GB in either a M2. 2280 or M.2 2242 formfactor. To make sure it can utilize the speed offered by the Optane drives, it uses the PCIe 3.0 x2 interface.
The speed offered by that interface is certainly required, as 3D Xpoint should, in theory, be 1000x faster than NAND memory, according to the developers, Micron and Intel. The idea behind the memory is to combine the speed of RAM memory with the storage capacity and price of NAND flash memory. The drawback appears to be the price, according to Micron it’s currently 4-5x more expensive than NAND. which is probably also why today’s announced Lenovo laptops come with a relatively small Optane SSD.