Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction and Specifications

Introduction:

Intel has pushed out many SSDs over the years, and unlike many manufacturers, they have never stopped heavily pushing SSD in the enterprise. They did so with their very first push of the X25-M / X25-E, where they seemingly came out of nowhere and just plunked down a pair of very heavy hitting SSDs. What was also interesting was that back then they seemed to blur the lines by calling their consumer offering 'mainstream', and considering it good enough for even some enterprise applications. Even though the die-hard stuff was left to the SLC-based X25-E, that didn't stop some consumers from placing them into their home systems. The X25-E used in this review came from a good friend of mine, who previously had it installed in his home PC.

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With several enterprise class models out there, we figured it was high time we put them all alongside each other to see where things are at, and that's the goal of this particular piece. We were motivated to group them together by the recent releases of the DC S3500 and DC S3700 drives, both using Intel's new Intel 8-channel controller.

Specifications:

  X25-E SSD 320 SSD 710 SSD 910* DC S3500 DC S3700
Capacity 32, 64GB 40, 80, 120, 160, 300, 600GB 100, 200, 300GB 400, 800GB 80, 120, 160, 240, 300, 480, 600, 800GB 100, 200, 400, 800GB
Read (seq) 250 270 270 500 500 500
Write (seq) 170 205 210 375 410 365
Read (4k) 35k 39.5k 38.5k 45k 75k 75k
Write (4k) 3.3k 23k (8GB span) 2.7k 18.7k 11k 32k
  • Since the SSD 910 is subdivided into 4 or 2 (depending on capacity) physical 200GB volumes, we chose to test just one of those physical units. Scaling can then be compared to other units placed into various RAID configurations. 910 specs were corrected to that of the single physical unit tested.
  • All other listed specs are specific to the tested (bold) capacity point.

 

 

Controllers:

Starting with the good old X25-E, which pretty much started it all, is Intel's original SATA 3Gb/sec 10-channel controller. Despite minor tweaks, this same controller was used in the X25-M, X25-M G2, SSD 320 and SSD 710 Series. Prior to Intel releasing their own 6Gb/sec SATA controller, they filled some of those voids by introducing Marvell and SandForce controllers with the 510 and 520, respectively, but those two were consumer-oriented drives. For the enterprise, Intel filled this same gap with the 910 Series - a PCIe LSI Falcon SAS RAID controller driving 2 or 4 6Gb/sec SAS Hitachi Ultrastar SSDs. Finally (and most recently), Intel introduced their own SATA 6Gb/sec controller in the form of the DC S3500 and DC S3700. Both are essentially the same 8-channel controller driving 20nm or 25nm IMFT flash, respectively.

More to follow on the next page, where we dive into the guts of each unit.

Continue reading our roundup of Intel's enterprise SSDs!