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Inside The SSD 710: Something Old And Something New

Intel SSD 710 Tested: MLC NAND Flash Hits The Enterprise
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Intel's PC29AS21BA0 NAND ControllerIntel's PC29AS21BA0 NAND Controller

Although this is technically a brand new SSD family, everything under the SSD 710's hood is pretty darned familiar. In fact, this enterprise-oriented drive is a mirror image of the consumer-oriented SSD 320. Both employ a ten-channel architecture based on Intel's PC29AS21BA0 controller. The difference, of course, is that the 710 SSD uses HET MLC, which is responsible for a scaled-back write speed rating. Beyond the controller and NAND, the SSD 320 and 710 share the ability to apply AES-128 encryption and protect data during power outages through the use of on-board capacitors.


Intel SSD 320 (G3)Intel SSD 710
Capacities120/160/300/600 GB
100/200/300 GB
NANDIMFT 25 nm MLC, ONFI 2.2
IMFT 25 nm HET MLC, ONFI 2.2
Cache
64 MB DRAM, 166 MHz
64 MB DRAM, 166 MHz
Sequential Read270 MB/s270 MB/s
Sequential Write220 MB/s210 MB/s
4 KB Random Read39 500 IOPS38 500 IOPS
4 KB Random Write23 000 IOPS2700 IOPS
SecurityATA Password + AES-128ATA Password + AES-128


Put a 300 GB SSD 320 and a 200 GB SSD 710 next to each other; it's difficult to distinguish one from the other.


Intel SSD 710
200 GB
Intel SSD 320
300 GB
Market Price (Debut)
$1299
$549
Price Per GB
$6.50$1.83
Raw Flash
320 GB320 GB
IDEMA Capacity
200 GB300 GB
User Accessible
186.31 GiB279.46 GiB
Over-Provisioning
40%6.66%


Like the 300 GB SSD 320 in our lab, Intel's 200 GB SSD 710 has 20 NAND packages, each one adding 16 GB to the drive's capacity. But while each SSD's PCB is aesthetically identical, the company's enterprise offering employs 40% over-provisioning. That's the highest we've seen from any product. This is a critical component in the adoption of MLC in the enterprise space, though, as increasing over-provisioning decreases write amplification, which in turn positively impacts the drive's endurance.

While 40% sounds like a lot, Intel recommends even more over-provisioning for write-heavy applications. If it were to set aside an additional 20% of the drive's NAND flash, write endurance would increase by another 50% or so. Combining HET MLC and exorbitant amounts of over-provisioning allows the SSD 710 to achieve an endurance rating 33x higher than the consumer-flavored SSD 320.

Write Endurance
(20% Extra Over-Provisioning In Parentheses)
NAND
Capacity Point
Endurance Rating
Intel SSD 320
MLC
160 GB
300 GB
600 GB
15 TB
30 TB
60 TB
Intel SSD 710
HET MLC
100 GB
200 GB
300 GB
500 TB (900 TB)
1.0 PB (1.5 PB)
1.1 PB (1.5 PB)


Although there's one formula you can use to calculate the endurance of enterprise- and consumer-oriented SSDs, both classes employ different specifications. After all of the available P/E cycles are consumed, NAND cells on a consumer SSD (like the 320) retain data for 12 months. On enterprise-oriented SSDs (like the 710), it's only possible to retrieve data for three months, which is perfectly fine. In the world of enterprise storage, swapping out a defective drive occurs within hours, so a lengthy data retention window is unnecessary.

Application
Active Use
(Power On)
Data Retention
(Power Off)
Functional Failure
Requirement (FFR)
Uncorrectable Bit
Error Rate
Client
40oC
8 hrs/day
30oC
1 Year
≤ 3%
≤ 10-15
Enterprise
55oC
  24 hrs/day
30oC
  3 Months
≤ 3%
≤ 10-16
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  • -3 Hide
    whysobluepandabear , October 31, 2011 4:46 AM
    TLDR; Although expensive, the drives offer greater amounts of data transfer, reliability and expected life - however, they cost a f'ing arm and a leg (even for a corporation).

    Expect these to be the standard when they've dropped to 1/3rd their current price.
  • 4 Hide
    RazorBurn , October 31, 2011 6:48 AM
    To some companies or institutions.. The data this devices hold far outweighs the prices of this storage devices..
  • -3 Hide
    nekromobo , October 31, 2011 8:14 AM
    I think the writer missed the whole point on this article.

    What happens when you RAID5 or RAID1 the SSD's??
    I don't think any enterprise would trust a single SSD without RAID.
  • -2 Hide
    DjEaZy , October 31, 2011 8:29 AM
    ... glad, that i have vertex 3...
  • 0 Hide
    halcyon , October 31, 2011 10:04 AM
    Nice. Now let's see how many comments complain about the price. :sarcastic: 
  • 0 Hide
    halcyon , October 31, 2011 10:13 AM
    __-_-_-__with the reliability those have they will never ever find their way into any server

    My Vertex 3 has been very reliable and I'm quite satisfied with the performance. However, I've heard reports that some, just like with anything else, haven't been so lucky.
  • -2 Hide
    toms my babys daddy , October 31, 2011 11:50 AM
    I thought ssd drives were unreliable because they can die at any moment and lose your data, and now I see that they're used for servers as well? are they doing daily backups of their data or have I been lied to? ;(
  • 1 Hide
    halcyon , October 31, 2011 11:57 AM
    toms my babys daddyI thought ssd drives were unreliable because they can die at any moment and lose your data, and now I see that they're used for servers as well? are they doing daily backups of their data or have I been lied to? ;(

    SSDs are generally accepted to be more reliable than HDDs...at least that's what I've been lead to believe.
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , October 31, 2011 12:33 PM
    halcyonSSDs are generally accepted to be more reliable than HDDs...at least that's what I've been lead to believe.

    Yes, but when they die, that's it; you're done. You can at least send a mechanical HDD to Ontrack (or a competing data recovery service) with a GOOD chance of getting most or all of your data back; when a SSD bricks, what can be done?
  • 2 Hide
    CaedenV , October 31, 2011 12:48 PM
    nekromoboI think the writer missed the whole point on this article.What happens when you RAID5 or RAID1 the SSD's??I don't think any enterprise would trust a single SSD without RAID.

    The assumption is that ALL servers will have raid. The point of this article is how often will you have to replace the drives in your raid? All of that down time, and manpower has a price. If the old Intel SSDs were about as reliable as a traditional HDD, then that means that these new ones will last ~30x what a traidional drive does, while providing that glorious 0ms seek time, and high IO output.
    Less replacement, less down time, less $/GB, and a similar performance is a big win in my book.
    toms my babys daddyI thought ssd drives were unreliable because they can die at any moment and lose your data, and now I see that they're used for servers as well? are they doing daily backups of their data or have I been lied to? ;(

    SSDs (at least on the enterprise level) are roughly equivalent to their mechanical brothers in failure rate. True, when the drive is done then the data is gone, but real data centers all use RAID, and backups for redundancy. Some go so far as to have all data being mirrored at 2 locations in real time, which is an extreme measure, but worth it when your data is so important.
    Besides, when a data center has to do a physical recovery of a HDD then they have already failed. The down time it takes to physically recover is unacceptable in many data centers. Though at least it is still an option.
  • 5 Hide
    CaedenV , October 31, 2011 12:52 PM
    Oh! I almost forgot; GREAT review Andrew! I learned a lot on this one.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , October 31, 2011 2:09 PM
    Lied to about what? And who are THEY? ... Life expectancy of SSD vs. Standard Harddrive? Thats always unknown, every unit is an animal unto itself. SSD's don't suffer mechanical issues however putting them ahead in my mind. Backups are determined by how much time you can afford to loose business-wise, how much data you have and how long it takes to recover to a point you backup at last. maybe your data is too valuable to have lost. In that case Mirror and even copy to a DR site, maybe even live. Best thing would probably be to trust your IT guy because you kinda seem lost :) 
  • 0 Hide
    halcyon , October 31, 2011 2:10 PM
    jtt283Yes, but when they die, that's it; you're done. You can at least send a mechanical HDD to Ontrack (or a competing data recovery service) with a GOOD chance of getting most or all of your data back; when a SSD bricks, what can be done?

    Its funny you mention that. Ontrack purports that they are quite adept at recovering SSDs.
  • -1 Hide
    mt2e , October 31, 2011 2:15 PM
    profit margins must be huge for a product with a simple memory swap
  • 0 Hide
    phate , October 31, 2011 7:04 PM
    So what's the difference between this and the P400e?
  • -2 Hide
    ruddenberg , October 31, 2011 7:40 PM
    Andrew Ku! Get the facts correct please !!!!

    Intel® SSD 710 Series 300/200/100GB
    Random Read (8GB Span) = no info
    Random Read (100% Span) = 38500/38500/38500 IOPS
    Random Write (8GB Span) = no info
    Random Write (100% Span) = 2000/2700/2300 IOPS

    Intel® SSD 320 Series 600/300/160/120/80GB
    Random Read (8GB Span) = 39500/39500/39000/38000/38000 IOPS
    Random Read (100% Span) = 39500/39500/39000/38000/38000 IOPS
    Random Write (8GB Span) = 23000/23000/21000/14000/10000 IOPS
    Random Write (100% Span) = 150/400/600/400/300 IOPS

  • -3 Hide
    cmartin011 , October 31, 2011 7:51 PM
    This is the best intel could come up with? i know reliability is important and all, but make the performance worth the price. at those dollar $ a much quicker PCI express solution could be afforded with some sorta redundant feature build in.
  • 1 Hide
    acku , October 31, 2011 9:16 PM
    ruddenbergAndrew Ku! Get the facts correct please !!!!Intel® SSD 710 Series 300/200/100GBRandom Read (8GB Span) = no infoRandom Read (100% Span) = 38500/38500/38500 IOPSRandom Write (8GB Span) = no infoRandom Write (100% Span) = 2000/2700/2300 IOPSIntel® SSD 320 Series 600/300/160/120/80GBRandom Read (8GB Span) = 39500/39500/39000/38000/38000 IOPSRandom Read (100% Span) = 39500/39500/39000/38000/38000 IOPSRandom Write (8GB Span) = 23000/23000/21000/14000/10000 IOPSRandom Write (100% Span) = 150/400/600/400/300 IOPS

    Read page 8. we covered that already.
  • 1 Hide
    campb292 , November 1, 2011 1:53 AM
    I find all the comments about data recovery very bizarre. What data would someone supposedly keep on a SSD (or HDD for that matter) that meets a threshold to warrant expensive data recovery in the event of failure, but not so sensitive to warrant a backup?

    My important info has a fresh original image and 2 daily backups that automatically create 12 hours apart. It takes about 5 minutes each and costs 29.99 a year. Come on people.
  • 0 Hide
    beenthere , November 1, 2011 1:55 AM
    This looks like more "experimenting" to see what enterprise will tolerate than a technical breakthrough. So far neither consumer grade nor the Intel 710 enterprise SSD impress me for performance, reliability and compatibility. It's certainly a painfully slow development on SSDs. Using consumers to beta test these drives is pretty unscrupulous IMO.
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