Sequential Read Performance

Our first test of sequential read performance uses short bursts of 128MB, issued as 128kB operations with no queuing. The test averages performance across eight bursts for a total of 1GB of data transferred from a drive containing 16GB of data. Between each burst the drive is given enough idle time to keep the overall duty cycle at 20%.

Burst 128kB Sequential Read (Queue Depth 1)

The burst QD1 sequential read performance of the Intel Optane SSD 900P falls in between the Samsung 960 PRO and 960 EVO. Samsung's fastest outperforms the Optane SSD by about 11%.

Our test of sustained sequential reads uses queue depths from 1 to 32, with the performance and power scores computed as the average of QD1, QD2 and QD4. Each queue depth is tested for up to one minute or 32GB transferred, from a drive containing 64GB of data.

Sustained 128kB Sequential Read

On the longer test of sequential read performance, the Optane SSD holds on to a commanding lead after the flash-based SSDs mostly slow down relative to their burst performance.

Both Optane devices show a jump in performance from QD1 to QD2, after which their performance holds steady. Samsung's 960s show very minor performance increases with queue depth, and at the highest queue depths the Intel SSD 750 comes closest to catching up to the Optane SSD.

Sequential Write Performance

Our test of sequential write burst performance is structured identically to the sequential read burst performance test save for the direction of the data transfer. Each burst writes 128MB as 128kB operations issued at QD1, for a total of 1GB of data written to a drive containing 16GB of data.

Burst 128kB Sequential Write (Queue Depth 1)

Samsung's 960 PRO and EVO drives all outperform the Intel Optane SSD 900P on the burst sequential write test, by up to 16%.

Our test of sustained sequential writes is structured identically to our sustained sequential read test, save for the direction of the data transfers. Queue depths range from 1 to 32 and each queue depth is tested for up to one minute or 32GB, followed by up to one minute of idle time for the drive to cool off and perform garbage collection. The test is confined to a 64GB span of the drive.

Sustained 128kB Sequential Write

On the longer sequential write test, the Optane SSD loses ground to Samsung's three fastest SSDs but everything else slows down even more.

Almost all of the SSDs in this bunch reach their full sequential write speed at QD2, and they are mostly differentiated by their speeds once saturated. A few drives show some unevenness during the later portions of the test, but the Optane SSD has just a minor blip in its favor at the end of the test.

Random Performance Mixed Read/Write Performance


View All Comments

  • phaethon1 - Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - link

    Nice post,

    I read in multiple channels about this SSD being able to be used as extra RAM. Then I contacted the technical support of Intel, and they do not have any clue about a software to enable this feature. Any ideas?
  • extide - Friday, October 27, 2017 - link

    SLC might be faster in sequential, but if you want sequential stripe a bunch of platters ..

    Also, I didn't say bit-level, I said block level. They present 512b blocks so you would assume the drive manages 'pages' in the size of 512b even though the underlying memory can be more fine-grained. SLC can't do that, plus there is still the whole garbage collection thing. If your hypothetical drive was actually a good idea, someone would make it. That's proof enough that it's not.
  • ddriver - Friday, October 27, 2017 - link

    They didn't make one not because it is not good enough, but because it would be too good.

    That would set a bad precedent. Before you know it, people will start demanding quality rather than being content with what the industry dictates to them.

    Of course, if hypetane manages to make enough a hole in the pockets of big players, we will definitely be seeing some of that long-possible, deliberately untapped potential coming to life.

    "That's proof enough that it's not."

    You know, they make trucks that drive 24/7, under huge loads, and can go much long without maintenance than a regular personal vehicle. That's proof enough that the industry doesn't make things as good as it can, obviously, if it can make a heavily used and loaded truck more durable, that would be not only possible, but actually much easier to achieve for a regular car that's driven less, under less load. Yet they don't make it, even if that ends up costing human lives. And the reason for that is moar profit. Which is why they chose to only overbuild trucks, because that too maximizes profits. But not cars. Cars are far more profitable if need more servicing, and that doesn't result in profit losses as it would if it was commercial trucks, and if underbuilt cars end up costing human lives, that's a small price to pay for more profit. Engineering wise, is entirely possible and easily doable to make a car about 10 times more durable, and requiring 10 times less maintenance, and 10 times safer too, but they'd rather get the extra profit. And keep good engineering exclusive to military and commercial production.

    The reason they haven't made it is they didn't have a reason to make it. And the reason intel did hypetane is only because it has been a very long time since they did anything new. They had that in the works, and decided to release it in order to demonstrate some innovation, unfortunately, not without shamelessly lying about how well it will perform in advance.
  • Xpl1c1t - Friday, October 27, 2017 - link

    ddriver, i like your analysis. maybe the review system just wasnt equipped with rgb lighting, that would explain at least one order of magnitude of error in their results vs Intel's promises Reply
  • jospoortvliet - Friday, November 3, 2017 - link

    > Engineering wise, is entirely possible and easily doable to make a car about 10 times more durable, and requiring 10 times less maintenance, and 10 times safer too, but they'd rather get the extra profit. And keep good engineering exclusive to military and commercial production.

    Well, yes, they care about their profits: nobody would buy such a super-durable car because it would cost 5-10x the price and people will go for the cheaper car, even though it has higher maintenance cost. This is true for nearly ANY product on the market: sure, you could built houses more durable, or bikes, or... you name it. But people prefer 'good enough' over 'perfect', always have. And they're not entirely stupid - many products' practical life time is fine, people quite like buying a new car every 3-5 years. Or new cups. Or new forks and knives.

    Yes, some folks pay the 10x price to get the perfect, durable stuff. But most buy pressed wood closets at Ikea and are happy with it.
  • Gastec - Saturday, March 10, 2018 - link

    I'm not sure if you are both ironic or are just too rich to think straight. Reply
  • AlishaScott - Sunday, October 29, 2017 - link

    I just got paid $6784 working off my laptop this month. And if you think that’s cool, my divorced friend has twin toddlers and made over $9k her first month. It feels so good making so much money when other people have to work for so much less. This is what I do... Reply
  • Nails6365 - Monday, November 6, 2017 - link

    Thank you for your in-depth analysis.

    Given the opportunity to make a high-end rig. What would you choose ?
  • Jared13000 - Tuesday, May 22, 2018 - link

    You’re not giving Optane enough credit, you don't necessarily compare a NAND based drive to an Optane based drive. Compare NAND to Optane, as NAND has had years of development pored into hiding its short comings that Optane has not yet had.

    I just built a small all flash hyper converged cluster and after setup I was getting about 500,000 random read IOPS on a quad node cluster with triple mirrored storage. Write speeds were about 1,000 IOPS, basically hard drive speeds across the 16 SSDs in the cluster.

    Was it bad drivers, miss configuration, ethernet flow control issues?

    None of the above. It was the drive cache. Storage spaces disabled it due to the drives not having power loss protection. Enabled the cache on all the drives to avoid direct NAND writes and now the cluster can push nearly 280,000 write IOPS. This mean with cache the drives are over 200 times faster than just writing directly to NAND.

    What does this have to do with Optane? As far as I have been able to find, Optane drives don't have or need a cache. Their performance is direct to storage, without cache!

    Taken in the context of NAND vs Optane, 1,000x may be embellished, but probably not by much. At this point PCIe overhead and lack of software optimization may be the only reason it’s not 1,000x faster when comparing modern NAND memory.

    It's not that much faster comparing a whole NAND drive with well implemented cache to an Optane drive, but some situations can't rely on cache. Also, a simpler drive should be more reliable, in theory.

    As it is Optane is unrivaled until someone manages to bring a drive to market with SLC NAND and nonvolatile cache like MRAM for about twice the cost of a 970 PRO.

    Just a thought, a 970 PRO 512 GB has an MSRP of $329 and the Intel 900p 280 GB has it’s MSRP at $329 as well. That is 256 GB of SLC flash vs 280 GB of Optane. Comparing an MLC drive to an SLC drive at half the capacity is a bit like comparing apples and oranges, but it’s a start for an estimate. Trade the DRAM for MRAM and bump the capacity a bit and it’s hard to imagine that a SLC NAND based drive with MRAM wouldn’t cost more than Optane.

    If you expected 1,000 times SSDs that are getting multiple gigabytes per second reads and writes, then you were looking for a drive faster than CPU cache. Intel really needs to watch their wording, but that does not make this a bad product.
  • CheapSushi - Friday, October 27, 2017 - link

    Well, then wait for Samsung's Z-NAND, which is MLC/TLC NAND treated like SLC. Reply

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