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Intel SSD DC P3700 800GB and 1.6TB Review: The Future of Storage

How We Tested Intel's SSD DC P3700

Test Hardware
ProcessorIntel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E), 32 nm, 3.3 GHz, LGA 2011, 15 MB Shared L3, Turbo Boost Enabled
MotherboardIntel DX79SI, X79 Express
MemoryG.Skill Ripjaws Z-Series (4 x 4 GB) DDR3-1600 @ DDR3-1600, 1.5 V
System DriveIntel SSD 320 160 GB SATA 3Gb/s
Tested DrivesIntel SSD DC P3700 800 GB and 1.6 TB
GraphicsAMD FirePro V4800 1 GB
Power SupplyOCZ ModXStream Pro 700 W
System Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 x64 Ultimate/Windows Server 2012 R2
DirectXDirectX 11
DriverGraphics: AMD 8.883
Benchmark Suite
Iometer v1.1.0Four Workers, 4 KB Random: LBA=Full, Span Varying Queue Depths
ATTOv2.4.7, 2 GB, QD=4
CustomC++, 8 MB Sequential, QD=4
Enterprise Testing: Iometer WorkloadsReadWrite512 Bytes1 KB2 KB4 KB8 KB16 KB32 KB64 KB128 KB512 KB
File Server80%100%10%5%5%60%2%4%4%10%n/an/a
Web Server100%100%22%15%8%23%15%2%6%7%1%1%

The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), a working group made up of SSD, flash, and controller vendors, has a testing procedure that attempts to control as many of the variables inherent to SSDs as possible. SNIA’s Solid State Storage Performance Test Specification (SSS PTS) is a great resource for enterprise SSD testing. The procedure does not define what tests should be run, but rather the way in which they are run. This workflow is broken down into four parts:

  1. Purge: Purging puts the drive at a known starting point. For SSDs, this normally means Secure Erase.
  2. Workload-Independent Preconditioning: A prescribed workloadthat is unrelated to the test workload.
  3. Workload-Based Preconditioning: The actual test workload (4 KB random, 128 KB sequential, and so on), which pushes the drive towards a steady state.
  4. Steady State: The point at which the drive’s performance is no longer changing for the variable being tracked.

These steps are critical when testing SSDs. It’s incredibly easy to not fully condition the drive and still observe out-of-box behavior, which may lead one to think that it’s steady-state. These steps are also important when going between random and sequential writes.

For all performance tests in this review, the SSS PTS was followed to ensure accurate and repeatable results.

All tests employ random data, when available. Intel's SSD DC P3700 does not perform any compression prior to writing, so there is no difference in performance-based data patterns. We also chose to focus our comparisons on the Micron P320h and P420m, which are quite similar in performance and architecture. Both employ a proprietary driver that, while not NVMe, yields a very close approximation.