SSD 910 Gets A True Enterprise-Class Workout
While the virtues of SSD storage have been known for many years, the technology's steady march towards enterprise dominance has focused squarely on the form, fit, and functional replacement of 2.5” SAS-based hard drives. In the data center world, that means you still have large racks of hot-swappable drive carriers, RAID cards, and supporting infrastructure.
PCIe-based SSDs are an attempt to reduce or combine all essential components in the storage chain. This reduction has multiple benefits, including lower cost, higher performance, higher reliability, and tighter integration. That last point is especially important when talking about solid-state technology. Compared to mechanical drives, SSDs can best be described as finicky. Their performance changes based on previous operations, they periodically execute maintenance tasks n the background, and they have a very specific life cycle. These idiosyncrasies, which are a nuisance for consumer applications, become deal-breakers at an enterprise level. The tight end-to-end (host interface to controller to NAND) integration of PCIe-based SSDs means that the entire package should operate in a single, harmonious state. At least, that's the theory.
Intel's SSD 910 series represents the company's first attempt at this marriage of NAND, PCIe bridge logic, and SAS ASICs.
The drive family is available in 400 and 800 GB capacities, available on the street for $1999 and $4499, respectively. Both flavors feature Intel’s 25 nm High Endurance Technology (HET) MLC NAND, the same stuff we covered in Intel SSD 710 Tested: MLC NAND Flash Hits The Enterprise. When the SATA-based SSD 710 first launched, its capacity was valued at $6/GB. Now, we're looking at less than $5/GB for enterprise-class solid-state storage. Intel packages it all together in a half-height, half-length PCIe 2.0 x8 card.
|Intel SSD 910 Series||SSDPEDOX400G301||SSDPEDPX800G301|
|User Capacity||400 GB||800 GB|
|Interface||PCIe 2.0 x8, Half-Height, Half-Length|
|Sequential Read||1 GB/s||2 GB/s|
|Sequential Write||0.75 GB/s||1 GB/s|
|4K Random Read||90 000 IOPS||180 000 IOPS|
|4K Random Write||38 000 IOPS||75 000 IOPS|
|Power Consumption (Active)||<25 W||<25 W*|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||8 W||12 W|
|Write Endurance||7 PB||14 PB|
When it comes to high-end storage, details matter a lot. But if you find yourself reading the first and last pages of this piece, let's cut right to the chase in order to make something clear: Intel's SSD 910 doesn't blow away its competition with sequential throughput or random I/O numbers we've never seen before.
The good news for Intel, however, is that judging this particular piece of hardware based on its spec sheer doesn't convey the whole story. Enterprise-oriented customers value quality and reliability as much or more than raw performance. With that in mind, Intel is in a particularly good place. Its X25-E was the gold standard for many years, and its SSD 710 family continues that legacy.
Will well-established quality and reliability be enough to propel Intel out ahead of the pack in a rapidly-expanding and continually-evolving PCIe-based SSD market?
Review sites never cover real world use - that is to live with it day in day out (reliability), its not all about raw speed and performance.
As best I understand it as it was descibed by the company that analyzed these failed drives, a block of NAND flash either went bad or became inaccessible by the controller rendering the drives useless and unable to be accessed by normal means of hooking it up to a SATA or USB port. Two drives, different NAND (50 nm for the G1 and 34 nm for the G2), same failure mode.
Once again, this is not definitive, just my observations but to me, I think review sites need to be a little more cautious about how they qualify intel's reputation for quality and reliability because from my perspective, intel has neither and I have since began using crucial SSD's. Hopefully, I will see much longer life from these new drives.
Intel, you should test these drive in that real world application. EMC, VM-ware and several data bases carve out some LUN's and Push the envelope. In this situation, should the device prove worthy, the 4000 price tag will come down very fast, and the data center will put it trust in product, So for those reading this for your personal home workstation and gaming ridge, you need not apply in this arena.
Intel is just about 18-months 2 years of owning the data center, Even EMC is powered by intel.
This drive, and every other piece of enterprise hardware out there, was never meant to be used by consumers.
Check out the Sequential Performance page, lists both compressible and incompressible. For all the other tests, random (incompressible) data was used.