Today, Intel is taking the wraps off new NVMe PCI Express Solid State Drives, which are the first products with these high speed interfaces that the company has launched specifically for the enthusiast computing and workstation crowds. Historically, Intel's PCI Express-based offerings, like the SSD DC P3700 Series
, have been squarely targeted for datacenter or enterprise applications, with price tags to match. However, today Intel is throwing performance enthusiasts another bone with the launch of the Intel SSD 750 series.
We've historically been big on PCI Express SSDs here, because they get around the SATA bottleneck that holds many standard 2.5-inch SATA Solid State Drives down at around 550MB/sec max throughput. PCIe
SSDs are able to utilize full PCIe X4 or X8 Gen 2 or Gen 3 bandwidth, hitting speeds well in excess of 1GB/sec in many cases. Still, though laying Flash memory down on a PCIe card has its advantages, many of the solutions currently on the market, save for some high-end, expensive offerings from the likes of Fusion-io
, actually still utilize SATA
controllers on their backend interface to the Flash memory, usually in a multi-controller RAID setup, that then has to be bridged to PCI Express on the other side.
In short, though this design approach does effectively get past the SATA
bottleneck, bridging and translation from one serial interface to another like this, adds latency and nips at overall throughput. However, more recently, major manufacturers have been collaborating on the NVMe
or NVM Express interface that was designed to offer direct high speed serial interfaces for NAND
Flash Non-Volatile Memory (or NVM) natively over PCI Express. Essentially, an NVMe controller offers an optimized, dedicated interface for Flash to connect to the PCI Express links in a system. The NVMe standards
consortium consists of companies like Micron, Seagate, SanDisk, Samsung, PMC, Cisco, EMC, Dell and of course, Intel.
Last year, Intel introduced their first NVMe PCI Express SSD, the SSD DC P3700
series, which again, was built for high-end datacenter or enterprise applications. Update 9/23/15
: Since the time of this publication, Intel has launched yet another data center class NVMe PCI Express solid state drive, dubbed the SSD DC P3608
. In a nutshell, this SSD is essentially two SSD 750 drives packed on to a single PCB with software RAID and offering a blistering 5GB/sec read throughput as well, as two times the write throughput of about 3GB/sec. Again, the difference here is that this particular drive is designed for high endurance in the data center and as such is over-provisioned with excess NAND capacity for wear leveling and also employs Intel's HET (High Endurance Technology) MLC NAND Flash memory. If you're in the need of killer performance and reliability in enterprise or high-end workstation applications, head on over to check it out
Today, the company's SSD 750 Series brings this cutting-edge NVMe technology down to the more mainstream performance/enthusiast market. We've got a beefy 1.2 Terabyte PCIe card on hand to show you what it's made of and how it performs.
Find the Intel SSD 750 Series NVMe PCIe SSD At Amazon - 400GB at $389, 1.2TB at $1029
Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2TB NVMe PCI Express SSD
Specifications & Features
The SSD 750 we're looking at today is a half-height PCIe X4 card that operates over a Gen 3 PCI Express interface for nearly 4GB/sec of available bandwidth. The card is actually specified to hit 2.4GB/sec max for sequential reads and 1.2GB/sec for sequential write throughput. That's over 4X the performance for reads and over 2X the performance for writes, versus a standard SATA SSD and it's the fastest consumer-class solid state storage product we've had come through our door, at least in terms of its specifications.
4K random read and write IOPS are listed as 440K and 290K respectively, which again blows anything we've tested here, thus far, out of the water, save for Intel's own SSD DC P3700. To achieve this performance, Intel designed the SSD 750 with their own 20nm MLC NAND Flash technology and the same proprietary NVMe controller that is found on the P3700, actually. However, as you can see, the card costs a lot less than the P3700 and actually weighs in at just under $1 per GiB, which is pretty aggressive when you consider its performance. It's also much less expensive than other PCIe products in the market currently, like OCZ's RevoDrive 350
. In fact, Intel's pricing puts the SSD 750 on parity with recent gumstick-on-PCIe card solutions like Plextor's M6e
drive, which again is pretty great, when you consider how much faster the SSD 750 claims to be.
We should also note the the SSD 750 Series comes with a 5 year limited warranty and its endurance is rated for 70GB of writes per day, with a total of 219TB written and a 1.2 million hour MTBF or meantime between failures. Comparably, drives like the RevoDrive 350 are rated for 50GB writes per day, although, in contrast, Intel's enterprise-targeted SSD DC P3700 is rated for a whopping 36.5 total PBW or petabytes written.