Intel SSD DC S3500: Focusing On Read Performance
This may come as a surprise to enthusiasts focused on cutting-edge consumer drives, but the 3 Gb/ss Intel SSD 320 family is still incredibly popular in the enterprise. Even though it's only two years old, though, the architecture's performance has not aged gracefully. A quick rundown of its four-corner specifications tells a sad story:
- Sequential Reads: 270 MB/s
- Sequential Writes: 200 MB/s
- Random Reads (100% Span): 39,500 IOPS
- Random Writes (100% Span): 400 IOPS
Wait, what? Yeah, you read that correctly. Four hundred IOPS for 4 KB random writes across all LBAs at a queue depth of 32. So why in the world are IT professionals not only buying these drives still, but buying them in the thousands of units? The answer isn't as straightforward. Even though the 320's performance isn't particularly impressive, the series covers the rest of its bases fairly well. Once Intel worked out its firmware issues, the SSD 320s became solid and reliable workhorses, and we've heard many anecdotal stories from large corporations about their reliability.
The SSD 320s clearly suffered an unfortunate identity disorder, too. Was it an enterprise drive or something intended for consumers? It had power loss protection and full-disk encryption, so it must be business-class hardware, right? At the same time, it replaced the X25-M, so surely it was intended for enthusiasts. In reality, it was a bit of both. You just had to do some reading in order to figure that out.
Intel spent the last two years trying to sort out its product channels. It's telling a clearer story now than even a year ago. And now enterprise customers are getting a true replacement for the SSD 320s in its SSD DC S3500. There is no confusing the issue on this one; it's business-oriented through and through. The DC stands for data center, so it sort of has to be.
The SSD DC S3500 is targeted mainly at read-intensive and mixed-workload applications. Anything more write-heavy is kicked up to the SSD DC S3700 (Intel SSD DC S3700 Review: Benchmarking Consistency). A few short months ago, when a big business wanted storage for the sort of role the S3500 is designed to fill, they were limited to consumer drives. However, since the start of the year, we've seen Seagate launch the 600 Pro (Seagate 600 Pro-Series 200 GB SSD Review: For The Enterprise) and Samsung introduce its 843. Along with the SSD DC S3500, we see those drives nosing out the desktop-oriented SSDs from enterprise rotation.
Intel's latest entry comes with all of the bells and whistles expected from a pricier enterprise drive. You get end-to-end data protection, power loss protection, 256-bit AES encryption, ECC memory, a 2 million hour MTBF, and a five-year warranty. It's good to see Intel integrate all of that reliability-boosting technology, considering this is still an entry-level offering wish pricing not much higher than the desktop-class stuff we typically review.
Most SSD manufacturers give you a handful of options when it comes to configuring solid-state storage. With Intel, that's an understatement. In the 7 mm, 2.5" form factor, you can pick between 80, 120, 160, 240, 300, 480, 600, and 800 GB capacities. In the 5 mm, 1.8" form factor, there are 80, 240, 400, and 800 GB models. This wide range of choices lets Intel target applications ranging from industrial embedded to data centers to blade servers.
Unlike many enterprise SSD manufacturers, Intel always discloses pricing information up-front. While we don't have MSRPs for every capacity point, we do know that the 480 GB model we're reviewing should run around $579. At ~$1.20/GB, Intel is quite competitive next to the other read-focused enterprise SSDs. When you take into account the warranty and reliability-focused features, you might even be tempted to snag one for your next desktop build. Before we go down that path, though, let's look at the specs.
|Intel SSD DC S3500 Line-Up|
|User Capacity (GB)||80||120||160||240||300||480||600||800|
|Interface||2.5" 6 Gb/s SATA|
|Sequential Read (MB/s)||340||445||475||500||500||500||500||500|
|Sequential Write (MB/s)||100||135||175||260||315||380||410||450|
|4K Random Read (IOPS)||70,000||75,000|
|4K Random Write (IOPS)||7000||4600||7500||9000||11,000||11,500|
|Power Consumption (Active)||1.8 W||2.0 W||2.3 W||2.9 W||3.5 W||4.3 W||4.5 W||5 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||0.6 W|
|Write Endurance (TBW)||45||70||100||140||170||275||330||450|