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Intel SSD DC P3700: A Stellar First Look at NVMe

Intel SSD DC P3700 800GB and 1.6TB Review: The Future of Storage
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Consolidation has certainly taken its toll on the SSD market over the past few years. There were once numerous manufacturers trying to carve out a piece of the pie, and now a handful of companies dominate the space. As we've mentioned many times before, the brands without manufacturing resources are at a distinct disadvantage. Even some of the names that developed unique and advanced products have been devoured by larger players.

With the introduction of its enterprise-oriented NVMe-based line-up, Intel shows why massive R&D budgets and strong manufacturing eventually win out. Although these aren't the first drives utilizing the latest in solid-state technology (Samsung unveiled its own NVMe-capable contender a while back), Intel's launch is the most impressive thus far. It wasn't content to announce just one product; rather, the company ushered in three product lines in two form factors covering 12 total capacities. Unless you're Intel, Samsung, or Micron, it's hard to pull off an introduction of this magnitude.

As we just saw, Intel's SSD DC P3700 is an impressive performer. Because there are so many models and capacities, it's difficult to set up direct comparisons against the other drives we've reviewed (largely because the P3700's write performance varies depending on model). We did notice that the SSD DC P3700 performed according to Intel's specification though, which bodes well for anticipating the behavior of versions we weren't able to benchmark. This is something we've grown to expect from Intel. If the storage group puts something on a datasheet, you're going to see it in the real world. So, while Micron's hardware proved to be more than a match, the capacities and prices of those SSDs don't necessarily line up with the SSD DC P3700s we tested. 

Speaking of pricing, Intel isn't known for its budget-oriented storage offerings. In this case, however, the company is looking to get aggressive in the PCIe-attached market. At ~$3/GB, the SSD DC P3700 is priced very competitively compared to Micron's P420m. Accounting for capacity, Intel should outperform the P420m in most tests. The Micron P320h is still superior in multiple areas, but at almost three times the price, it darned well should be.

Even though these product are aimed at enterprise customers, we have no doubt that certain enthusiasts will see the SSD DC P3500's price and find it reasonable enough. Unlike Intel's SSD 910, these SSDs are all bootable. Also, they perform extremely well at low queue depths, which is how most power users utilize their drives. Even multiple SSDs in a RAID array would have a hard time matching the performance of these PCIe-based solutions.

Maybe it's because we knew this technology was coming several years back, but this feels like an evolutionary step forward. Still, we want more. We now have a device stack that far exceeds the performance of the host interface and NAND; there's no more stumbling over the high latencies of AHCI. The stage is set for the future of storage, and Intel has its stake in the ground as far as enterprise-class NVMe products go. Only time will tell if other companies have the resources and expertise to follow.

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  • 0 Hide
    blackmagnum , August 13, 2014 12:17 AM
    A large heat sink on an SSD? This thing is too hot to touch!
  • 0 Hide
    saturn85 , August 13, 2014 2:19 AM
    will this kind of ssd suffer from write wear out/reduce lifespan?
  • 1 Hide
    xback , August 13, 2014 2:44 AM
    In the 1st table on page 1, the "4k random write IOPS" are reversed :) 

    (3500 scores highest, while the 3700 scores lowest)
  • 0 Hide
    redgarl , August 13, 2014 3:55 AM
    OCZ already went there and even made their own connector for providing more bandwith to SSD... just a shame that now Intel try to remove the carpet from beneath the feet of OCZ. Well, old tech is new tech.

    By the way, OCZ revodrive was priced similarly, I don't see that big fuzz from Toms here.
  • 3 Hide
    Nuckles_56 , August 13, 2014 4:00 AM
    "Intel's 2 TB model purportedly needs 650 LFM across the drive"

    What the hell is LFM?
  • 0 Hide
    JeanLuc , August 13, 2014 5:04 AM
    The active power consumption numbers on first table are wrong (I hope!) 35,000 watts active?

    Edit:
    It's not actually wrong it might just be my out of date browser I'm using in the office but for me the numbers aren't lining up correctly.
  • 4 Hide
    pjmelect , August 13, 2014 5:29 AM
    Quote:
    "Intel's 2 TB model purportedly needs 650 LFM across the drive"

    What the hell is LFM?


    Linear Feet per Minute of airflow
  • -1 Hide
    pjmelect , August 13, 2014 5:33 AM
    Quote:
    "Intel's 2 TB model purportedly needs 650 LFM across the drive"

    What the hell is LFM?


    Linear Feet per Minute of airflow
  • 0 Hide
    Nuckles_56 , August 13, 2014 5:33 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    "Intel's 2 TB model purportedly needs 650 LFM across the drive"

    What the hell is LFM?


    Linear Feet per Minute of airflow


    Ah that makes sense now
  • 0 Hide
    xXXGamesmasheRXXx , August 13, 2014 5:39 AM
    These Expensive Numbers!
  • 0 Hide
    WyomingKnott , August 13, 2014 7:27 AM
    Did I misread the charts, or did this drive consistently come in second or third except in consistency?
  • 0 Hide
    chewrock , August 13, 2014 9:01 AM
    My OCZ Revo drive is a first generation PCIe model I got on sale from New Egg. No problems. What is iNTEL trying to claim? Nothing. Their new interface spec is just making it possible for low-tech users to install a product that OCZ has been selling for years.
  • 0 Hide
    drewriley , August 13, 2014 11:20 AM
    Quote:
    In the 1st table on page 1, the "4k random write IOPS" are reversed :) 

    (3500 scores highest, while the 3700 scores lowest)


    Fixed - Thanks!
  • 0 Hide
    drewriley , August 13, 2014 11:23 AM
    Quote:
    Did I misread the charts, or did this drive consistently come in second or third except in consistency?


    You are correct, there are PCIe SSDs that can beat the P3700, but Intel undercuts the price on those SSDs by a wide margin. SSDs that are in the same price ballpark as the P3700 don't come close in most tests.
  • 0 Hide
    drewriley , August 13, 2014 11:24 AM
    Quote:
    will this kind of ssd suffer from write wear out/reduce lifespan?


    Yes, these SSDs still have a write endurance specification that is listed on the first page. The P3700 can withstand 10 drive writes per day (DWPD) for a full 5 years.
  • -1 Hide
    drewriley , August 13, 2014 11:30 AM
    Quote:
    OCZ already went there and even made their own connector for providing more bandwith to SSD... just a shame that now Intel try to remove the carpet from beneath the feet of OCZ. Well, old tech is new tech.

    By the way, OCZ revodrive was priced similarly, I don't see that big fuzz from Toms here.


    The OCZ RevoDrive's that are similarly priced are more consumer drives and not enterprise like the P3XXX series from Intel. These drives will have more write endurance and greater sustained IOP performance, which is what enterprise customers pay for. Also, NVMe isn't an Intel unique thing. Expect to see all PCIe SSD companies, including OCZ, to follow.
  • 0 Hide
    drewriley , August 13, 2014 11:34 AM
    Quote:
    My OCZ Revo drive is a first generation PCIe model I got on sale from New Egg. No problems. What is iNTEL trying to claim? Nothing. Their new interface spec is just making it possible for low-tech users to install a product that OCZ has been selling for years.


    I wouldn't say Intel is trying to claim anything. They are following\leading an industry specification that most companies will move to eventually, including OCZ. Native booting is obviously one benefit, but low latency and fewer CPU cycles required are what enterprise customers are happy about.
  • 0 Hide
    bin1127 , August 13, 2014 7:51 PM
    Wanted to make a joke about the name but, nevermind.
  • 0 Hide
    f-14 , August 14, 2014 11:55 AM
    Quote:
    Wanted to make a joke about the name but, nevermind.

    AKA Megatron ?

    i don't see the point in this, it reminds me of the ISA memory storage cards. i can't see this lasting more than 5-10 years as some company already figured out how to do this with RAM (samsung wasn't it?) and is working on the need for storage drives altogether and just have RAM drives that don't lose their data sort of an mpci but in a 304-9 pin dimm slot form factor if i recall properly ?

    so these nvmhci might be on the market now but when that company brings their solution to market it's going to eliminate the need for pcie and sata except for optical disc reading and graphics cards. but i am sure those manufacturers will be looking for a way to incorporate gpus into DIMM slot factors to take real advantage of boards with 32+ PCIe lanes like socket 2011/X79/X99 solutions.

    it would eliminate the pathway needs for alot of peripherals and decrease the size of M/B tremendously to where you'd only need a PC the size of a 9"x 6"x 8" case which USB 3.1 and display port/thunderbolt/lightning eliminating the need for alot of built ins
  • 0 Hide
    saturn85 , August 15, 2014 9:02 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    will this kind of ssd suffer from write wear out/reduce lifespan?


    Yes, these SSDs still have a write endurance specification that is listed on the first page. The P3700 can withstand 10 drive writes per day (DWPD) for a full 5 years.


    oh, i see, i think i have miss that part. when NVMe first come to my mind, i thought their storage chips have move to non volatile memory base like PCM, ReRAM and ST-MRAM. but now only i notice their storage chips are still NAND base.
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