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The SSD DC S3500 Review: Intel's 6 Gb/s Controller And 20 nm NAND

Test Setup, Benchmarks, And Methodology

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 S3500, 480 GB
GraphicsAMD FirePro V4800 1 GB
Power SupplyOCZ ModXStream Pro 700 W
System Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 x64 Ultimate
DirectXDirectX 11
DriverGraphics: ATI 8.883
Benchmark Suite
Iometer v1.1.04 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
Database67%100%n/an/an/an/a100%n/an/an/an/an/a
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 workload that 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 S3500 does not perform any data compression prior to writing, so there is no difference in performance-based data patterns.

  • Mastle
    Hi, Think there's an error on page 1, $579 for 80GB drive......Surely won't be getting it at that price for my home build!
    Reply
  • drewriley
    -Mastle - You are correct, that should read $579 for the 480GB version.
    Reply
  • busuan
    Found myself suddenly losing interests in SATA SSDs after seeing the specs of PCIe SSD in the latest MBA refresh.
    Reply
  • PapaCrazy
    An Intel 320 series SSD I put in my dad's computer just encountered the 8mb bug even though the firmware was updated with the "fixed" version. He uses the computer for business and I got him an Intel SSD thinking it'd be reliable. I think I'm gonna try Samsung next time around.
    Reply
  • Evolution2001
    Nitpicking here... but the article text is still wrong...or the math is. :p
    ''...we do know that the 800 GB model we're reviewing should run around $579. At ~$1.20/GB, ...''

    800GB @ $1.20 = $960.
    Reply
  • drewriley
    10952175 said:
    Nitpicking here... but the article text is still wrong...or the math is. :p
    ''...we do know that the 800 GB model we're reviewing should run around $579. At ~$1.20/GB, ...''

    800GB @ $1.20 = $960.

    Thanks, just can't seem to get the right combination of 4, 8 and 0. The 480GB version is $579
    Reply
  • drewriley
    10952165 said:
    An Intel 320 series SSD I put in my dad's computer just encountered the 8mb bug even though the firmware was updated with the "fixed" version. He uses the computer for business and I got him an Intel SSD thinking it'd be reliable. I think I'm gonna try Samsung next time around.

    With the BAD_CTX_13X (8MB) failure, the fixed firmware fixed 'most' of them. The failure rates are quite low, especially after the FW 'fix', but if that one failure happens on the only drive you bought, it can really suck. As a consumer, I could care less if a million other people got a good SSD, if mine fails, I am upset. As an enterprise buyer, if one fails out a million, my company is throwing a party!


    Reply
  • flong777
    Why does Intel continue to release mediocre SSDs? Granted this performs middle of the pack but I just don't understand why a company with Intel's resources doesn't put out a top performer like the 840 Pro.
    Reply
  • Grizely1
    10955531 said:
    Why does Intel continue to release mediocre SSDs? Granted this performs middle of the pack but I just don't understand why a company with Intel's resources doesn't put out a top performer like the 840 Pro.

    Go back and read the article.

    Or, learn the difference between consumer vs commercial. It's a DT (Data Center).
    Reply
  • flong777
    10959572 said:
    10955531 said:
    Why does Intel continue to release mediocre SSDs? Granted this performs middle of the pack but I just don't understand why a company with Intel's resources doesn't put out a top performer like the 840 Pro.

    Go back and read the article.

    Or, learn the difference between consumer vs commercial. It's a DT (Data Center).

    Fair enough, I guess I should have been more clear. I don't understand why Intel is involved with so many mediocre SSDs - whether enterprise or consumer.
    While I am not an enterprise user, I think I understand the basics. Enterprise SSDs are geared to handle heavy cues and write loads.

    You have a point that it is not fair to compare enterprise with consumer - they are two different animals.
    Reply