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Intel Optane SSD 800P 58GB, 118GB, and RAID Review - 3D XPoint Goes Mainstream

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Intel has wanted a 3D XPoint to go 'mainstream' for some time now. Their last big mainstream part, the X25-M, launched 10 years ago. It was available in relatively small capacities of 80GB and 160GB, but it brought about incredible performance at a time where most other early SSDs were mediocre at best. The X25-M brought NAND flash memory to the masses, and now 10 years later we have another vehicle which hopes to bring 3D XPoint to the masses - the Intel Optane SSD 800P:

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Originally dubbed 'Brighton Beach', the 800P comes in at capacities smaller than its decade-old counterpart - only 58GB and 118GB. The 'odd' capacities are due to Intel playing it extra safe with additional ECC and some space to hold metadata related to wear leveling. Even though 3D XPoint media has great endurance that runs circles around NAND flash, it can still wear out, and therefore the media must still be managed similarly to NAND. 3D XPoint can be written in place, meaning far less juggling of data while writing, allowing for far greater performance consistency across the board. Consistency and low latency are the strongest traits of Optane, to the point where Intel was bold enough to launch an NVMe part with half of the typical PCIe 3.0 x4 link available in most modern SSDs. For Intel, the 800P is more about being nimble than having straight line speed. Those after higher throughputs will have to opt for the SSD 900P, a device that draws more power and requires a desktop form factor.

Specifications:

  • Capacities: 58GB, 118GB
  • PCIe 3.0 x2, M.2 2280
  • Sequential: Up to 1200/600 MB/s (R/W)
  • Random: 250K+ / 140K+ IOPS (R/W) (QD4)
  • Latency (average sequential): 6.75us / 18us (R/W) (TYP)
  • Power: 3.75W Active, 8mW L1.2 Sleep

Specs are essentially what we would expect from an Optane Memory type device. Capacities of 58GB and 118GB are welcome additions over the prior 16GB and 32GB Optane Memory parts, but the 120GB capacity point is still extremely cramped for those who would typically desire such a high performing / low latency device. We had 120GB SSDs back in 2009, after all, and nowadays we have 20GB Windows installs and 50GB game downloads.

Before moving on, I need to call out Intel on their latency specification here. To put it bluntly, sequential transfer latency is a crap spec. Nobody cares about the latency of a sequential transfer, especially for a product which touts its responsiveness - something based on the *random* access latency, and the 6.75us figure above would translate to 150,000 QD1 IOPS (the 800P is fast, but it's not *that* fast). Most storage devices/media will internally 'read ahead' so that sequential latencies at the interface are as low as possible, increasing sequential throughput. Sequential latency is simply the inverse of throughput, meaning any SSD with a higher sequential throughput than the 800P should beat it on this particular spec. To drive the point home further, consider that a HDD's average sequential latency can beat the random read latency of a top-tier NVMe SSD like the 960 PRO. It's just a bad way to spec a storage device, and it won't do Intel any favors here if competing products start sharing this same method of rating latency in the future.

Packaging:

Our samples came in white/brown box packaging, but I did snag a couple of photos of what should be the retail box this past CES:

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View Full Size

Read on for our full review of the Intel Optane SSD 800P 58GB and 118GB!

Review Terms and Disclosure
All Information as of the Date of Publication
How product was obtained: The product is on loan from Intel for the purpose of this review.
What happens to product after review: The product remains the property of Intel but is on extended loan for future testing and product comparisons.
Company involvement: Intel had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
PC Perspective Compensation: Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by Intel for this review.
Advertising Disclosure: Intel has not purchased advertising at PC Perspective during the past twelve months.
Affiliate links: This article contains affiliate links to online retailers. PC Perspective may receive compensation for purchases through those links.
Consulting Disclosure: Intel is a current client of Shrout Research for products or services related to this review.

March 8, 2018 | 04:32 PM - Posted by AnonymousFool.setText("Question?") (not verified)

OK so with all that data...is it faster than a 960 evo for everyday windows use? and does it use more or less power for a laptop?

March 8, 2018 | 04:54 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Likely less power in laptop usage as it spends less time servicing IOs on average, but the 'feel' will likely be similar unless you are doing some heavy mixed/random read workloads.

March 8, 2018 | 04:41 PM - Posted by CB

Any idea why Intel chose the PCI-E 3.0 x2 interface? All M.2 slot that support this drive are x4 capable. Seems like they are leaving performance on the table....

On a related note, correct me if I'm wrong, but most Z370 motherboards have 20 PCI-E lanes available without going through the chipset's 4 additional lanes. Usually they are assigning 16 lanes to the graphics card and 4 lanes to an M.2 slot. Additional M.2 slots are running through the chipset's lanes. Are existing motherboards capable of assigning 2 CPU lanes to 2 different M.2 slots?

March 8, 2018 | 04:46 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

They likely went with x2 since they already had hardware/controller close to that ready to go (via Optane Memory parts).

Current X299 boards / VMDs can only bifurcate in x4 chunks, but someone can probably make a PCIe switch that can split further.

March 8, 2018 | 09:17 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

Re: ASUS Sabertooth X99

Allyn,

Would it make any sense to evaluate these Optane parts on an AMD Threadripper system?

My best guess is that your X99 test system was capable of driving both the M.2 and x16 slots at max speed, so an AMD motherboard should not make much of a difference.

Again, thanks for your consistently excellent reviews!

p.s. Did you ever solve the problems you encountered with your Threadripper system?

March 9, 2018 | 02:18 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

In short, it wouldn't, not if I wanted the lowest and most consistent latencies.

I've been sticking with the X99 platform because 1. If it ain't broke... and 2. I'd rather not re-test 100+ SSDs, not until I've added some workloads to the suite at least.

Re: problems on TR - the problems are still an issue, and are still preventing me from getting results consistent enough to feel comfortable publishing.

March 10, 2018 | 02:49 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

Copy that and ... THANKS AGAIN!

March 8, 2018 | 09:24 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

Re:
https://www.pcper.com/image/view/89768?return=node%2F69337

To clarify, I am still curious if the latter AIC will be bootable when installed in an AMD Threadripper motherboard.

For prosumers and workstation users who now prefer a TR system, this AIC with 4 x Optanes could work.

Nevertheless, you are correct: 4 x Samsung 960 Pro make more sense in such an AIC, for reasons you have already explained in your other reviews.

March 9, 2018 | 02:20 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Yes, it's bootable since the UEFI initializes the array each boot. Consistent performance? that's another story entirely.

March 10, 2018 | 02:54 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

Apples-to-apples, perhaps we should wait for M.2 Optanes to be enhanced with support for x4 PCIe lanes each.

Also, there is the 16 GHz clock rate approved for PCIe 4.0:
Intel may be "vectoring" x2 PCIe lanes to a future date
when x2 @ 16G = x4 @ 8G .

https://www.anandtech.com/show/11967/pcisig-finalizes-and-releasees-pcie...

March 12, 2018 | 04:42 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

PCIe 4.0 is gopping to be power hungry at least initially. Don't be surprised to see SSDs hang out at 3.0 for a good while after 4.0 is available and shipping on motherboards.

March 10, 2018 | 08:38 AM - Posted by Johnny1981 (not verified)

So I just want to make sure I can use this....I have an Asus Z370E, 8700K, one 1080Ti....with 4 hard drives (3 standard- 2@7200RPM, one 5400RPM) and one SSD boot drive from Crucial. Also, External backup HD from western digital. Will I have any issues if I decide to purchase this?

March 11, 2018 | 09:42 PM - Posted by Tony (not verified)

From what I been told the Intel Optane SSD 800P has to be boot drive.

March 12, 2018 | 04:09 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

It doesn't *have* to be a boot drive. Can be used as a fast random access temp drive, etc. All depends on where you want the traits of this particular SSD.

*edit* you may be thinking of Optane Memory (caching), which will only cache the boot drive. 800P can be used this way, by installing the Optane Memory driver, but it's overkill with >32GB of cache.

March 12, 2018 | 04:31 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

The Z370E has a pair of M.2 slots, so even if your Crucial SSD is M.2, you should have room. You could put the 800P in the primary M.2 slot to use for boot and shift any other (larger) M.2 SSD to the second M.2 / other SATA port (depending on what it is) for use as a game / other SSD.

March 11, 2018 | 10:19 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

Interesting graph:

history of PCIe actual bandwidth
compared to
every 3 years, I/O bandwidth doubles:

https://images.anandtech.com/doci/11967/pci-sig_history_graphic_wide_rgb...

March 11, 2018 | 10:23 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

Allyn, On behalf of all pcper.com users,
please accept our sincere appreciation
for your very prompt and professional
answers to all our questions.

March 14, 2018 | 11:23 PM - Posted by Shadowarez

I just got great deal on a i7 7800x and a Gigabyte Aorus Gaming Ultimate,

can I use say a 960 Pro 1 Tb as boot then the 2 118gb optane as a raid cache.

I won't be using high end gpu this will be a sever build with alot of Hdds?

March 15, 2018 | 02:33 PM - Posted by EddieObscurant (not verified)

Any news on Micron's QuantX ?

April 2, 2018 | 03:04 PM - Posted by seventyfive (not verified)

From their earnings call I don't think we'll see it until 2019

March 15, 2018 | 07:20 PM - Posted by Shadowarez

Pretty sure that was just vaporware to force intel to release hypetane asap. as there has been zero products from micron with there brand of xpoint.

i was excited to see the dimms they were working on it all looked so good on paper but sadly that will most likely be a pipe dream that will never bear fruit.

you got about as much chance as valve releasing HL3 then micron actually make a product with xpoint at this point.

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