In our Intel roadmap article published in May, we shortly previewed Intel's upcoming 700 Series SSDs. Back then there wasn't much to talk about as very few specs were known. Today we have some additional details to share, thanks to German site ComputerBase.de.

Intel SSD 700 Series
Series 710 720
Codename Lyndonville Ramsdale
Capacities (GB) 100/200/300 200/400
NAND type 25nm MLC-HET 34nm SLC
Cache (DRAM) 64MB 512MB
Interface SATA 3Gb/s PCIe 2.0
Read speed  270MB/s 2200MB/s
Write speed 210MB/s 1800MB/s
4KB read 35 000 IOPs 180 000 IOPs
4KB write 3 300 IOPs 56 000 IOPs
Power (active/standby) 4W/0.095W 25W/8W
Security AES-128 encryption AES-256 encryption
Data path protection LBA tag checking End to end data protection

I want to start off by saying that these SSDs are aimed at enterprise use. If you want an SSD for your gaming rig, you should look at our mid-range SSD roundup for example. 

The Intel 700 Series is meant to replace the X25-E lineup, Intel's enterprise series, which hasn't been updated since late 2008 so it's long overdue. However, neither of these is an exact successor. The 710 Series is closer with its 2.5" form factor and SATA 3Gb/s. The 710 Series is actually pretty close to the 320 Series in terms of specs: sustained write is slightly higher but random performance is a bit lower. The biggest difference between the 320 and 710 series is the NAND type. 320 Series uses regular MLC that you can find inside any mainstream SSDs; 710 Series is Intel's first enterprise level SSD to use MLC NAND, but not just any kind of MLC—it will use MLC-HET NANDs. MLC-HET offers more write cycles per cell so longetivity is increased, which is crucial for enterprises. The only downside is that MLC-HET will only last for 3 months after all write cycles have been used, whereas normal MLC will last for 12 months. However, this shouldn't be an issue due to the increased amount of write cycles. For the record, MLC-HET with 20% over-provisioning (OP) appears to offer roughly 65 times greater endurance than normal MLC. 

The 720 Series will be Intel's first PCIe SSD. To take full advantage of it, you will need at least a PCIe 2.0 x8 slot since a x4 slot will only provide up to 2GB/s while the 720 Series provides read speeds of up to 2.2GB/s. It will use 34nm SLC NANDs, which is pretty common for high-end enterprise SSDs due to SLC's much better endurance. The 720 Series promises up to 36PB (yes, as in 36000TB) of 8KB writes for the 400GB SSD. That is nearly 1000 times more durable than 25nm MLC and over 10 times more durable than 25nm MLC-HET. 

  320 Series 710 Series 720 Series
Capacity (GB) 80 160 300 100 200 200 400
Endurance (TB) ? ? ? 500/900 (20% OP) 1000/1300 (20% OP) 18000 36000
Reliability (MTBF-hours) 1.2 million 2.0 million N/A

One of the biggest and most needed upgrades from X25-E is the much better encryption support. X25-E offered only ATA password protection, which is way too vulnerable by today's standards, especially when considering that even the mainstream 320 Series supports 128-bit AES. 720 Series will take that one step even further by supporting 256-bit AES encryption. This is very important for enterprises handling confidential data; you don't want your data get into the wrong hands and you are ready to pay the premium for the best protection.

This update is essential for Intel to stay competitive in the enterprise SSD market. It has already been 2.5 years since the last update and when considering the progress of SSDs during this time, it's surprising that the update hasn't take place sooner. There isn't much news on the release schdule so the best we've got is what we have already posted: Q2'11 for 710 Series and Q4'11 for 720 Series SSDs. The 710 Series seems to be the low-end offering and it's basically the same as the 320 Series with improved endurance. The 720 Series, on the other hand, is an SSD for heavy enterprise use with features making it suitable for such use. OCZ has pretty much been the dominator of PCIe SSD market but Intel's 720 Series could offer some serious competition in the high-end PCIe SSD market.

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  • mczak - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    Any information how the more write cycles are achieved?
    Otherwise the 710 looks pretty uninspiring indeed, almost like intended for consumers which really want to write a lot of data (but probably priced out of reach for them...).
    The 720 though means some serious business, with that power consumption I hope it doesn't need a fan :-).
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    I tried to find info on this but I couldn't find any. I even asked Anand but even he didn't have any specific info on this :( It's something that interests me quite a lot so I hope we will be able to cover that part more thoroughly at some point.

    There is one Intel slide that explains something about endurance but it doesn't say anything specific about MLC-HET though: https://intel.wingateweb.com/bj11/scheduler/downlo...
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    Perhaps HexFET technology ? Reply
  • SignalPST - Thursday, June 16, 2011 - link

    Any word if the 720 will be bootable like the RevoDrives? Reply
  • PixyMisa - Thursday, June 16, 2011 - link

    This is speculation based on what some other vendors (Toshiba and Sandisk) are doing, but I suspect that MLC-HET works by taking standard MLC flash and treating it as two-level storage. If a read returns an intermediate level (10 or 01 instead of 11 or 00), that would be treated as an error and a potentially bad block.

    If this is true it should work out twice as expensive as MLC but with significantly better write endurance. Intel's X25-E SLC drives are about six times as expensive as their MLC drives, so that would be a big win.
    Reply
  • aldiswilson - Saturday, June 25, 2011 - link


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  • marc1000 - Thursday, June 16, 2011 - link

    like, any pci-e card? Reply
  • velis - Thursday, June 16, 2011 - link

    No, not like any pci-e card.
    Like a disk controller pci-e card with the disk attached.
    Reply
  • marc1000 - Thursday, June 16, 2011 - link

    this is weird. I mean, the Revo drives are cool but unpratical for servers, so what will be the form factor of this intel drive?

    in blade or rack servers we usually do not have spare space...
    Reply

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