The Drives & Architecture

Architecturally, the S3500 looks a lot like the S3700. You get the same controller, similar firmware, AES-256 encryption and power loss protection. Where the two drives differ is in the type of NAND used. While the S3700 used 25nm HET-MLC (High Endurance Technology), the S3500 features high-grade 20nm MLC. As it's less focused on extremely write heavy applications, the S3500 also features less spare area than the S3700. You're still getting more than you would with a consumer drive, but far less than what we saw with its big brother. The result is lower endurance, lower sustained 4KB random write performance but a lower price as well.

Enterprise SSD Comparison
  Intel SSD DC S3700 Intel SSD DC S3500 Intel SSD 710 Intel X25-E Intel SSD 320
Capacities 100 / 200 / 400 / 800GB 80 / 120 / 160 / 240 / 300 / 400 / 480 / 600 / 800GB 100 / 200 / 300GB 32 / 64GB 80 / 120 / 160 / 300 / 600GB
NAND 25nm HET MLC 20nm MLC 25nm HET MLC 50nm SLC 25nm MLC
Max Sequential Performance (Reads/Writes) 500 / 460 MBps 500 / 450 MBps 270 / 210 MBps 250 / 170 MBps 270 / 220 MBps
Max Random Performance (Reads/Writes) 76K / 36K 75K / 11.5K 38.5K / 2.7K IOPS 35K / 3.3K IOPS 39.5K / 600 IOPS
Endurance (Max Data Written) 1.83 - 14.6PB 45 - 450TB 500TB - 1.5PB 1 - 2PB 5 - 60TB
Encryption AES-256 AES-256 AES-128 - AES-128
Power Safe Write Cache Y Y Y N Y
Intel SSD DC S3x00 Endurance (Total Drive Writes)
  80GB 100GB 120GB 160GB 200GB 240GB 300GB 400GB 480GB 600GB 800GB
S3700 - 1.825 PB - - 3.65 PB - - 7.3 PB - - 14.6 PB
S3500 45 TB - 70 TB 100 TB 140 TB - 170 TB 225 TB 275 TB 330 TB 450 TB

Intel provided two MSRPs for the S3500: $115 for an 80GB drive and $979 for an 800GB drive. With a range of $1.22 to $1.43 per GB, the S3500 is clearly more expensive than consumer drives but it hardly feels like it's priced as an enterprise solution.

Intel SSD Overprovisioning Comparison
  Advertised Capacity Total NAND on-board User Acessible Capacity MSRP
Intel SSD 710 200GB 320GB 186GB $800
Intel SSD DC S3700 200GB 264GB 186GB $470
Intel SSD DC S3500 240GB 264GB 223GB ~$320

Like the S3700, the S3500 is available in both 1.8" and 2.5" form factors. The 1.8" version is limited to 80GB, 240GB, 400GB and 800GB capacities, while the 2.5" version is available in all of the capacities. Also like its bigger brother, the S3500 supports both 5V and 12V operation. Power consumption is a bit lower than on the S3700, but idle power is still too high for notebook use at 600mW. Intel really needs a consumer optimized version of this controller for use in the client space.

Intel SSD DC S3x00 Power Consumption (5V, Max)
  80GB 100GB 120GB 160GB 200GB 240GB 300GB 400GB 480GB 600GB 800GB
S3700 - 3.1W - - 4.6W - - 7.7W - - 8.2W
S3500 2.0W - 2.4W 2.7W - 3.2W 3.9W - 5.2W 5.5W 7.3W

My S3500 sample showed up shortly before I left for Computex, which unfortunately left me without much time to go through and do a thorough job of evaluating the drive. Thankfully I had enough time to get some of the basics done, so what I'm presenting here is the first part of our look at the S3500. We're also continuing work on building some of our own flagship enterprise SSD benchmarks in Johan's mini datacenter, so I'm hoping to be able to run some of those workloads on the S3500 in the not too distant future.

Introduction Performance Consistency
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  • Minion4Hire - Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - link

    I believe that's just the writes they guarantee the drive for. There's write amplification and maintenance to consider there as well.
  • ShieTar - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    Well, they have to keep the S3700 useful enough to sell both. So they tailor the specs a bit in order to push customers into buying the "right" drive.
  • ShieTar - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    Then again, if this is guaranteed for the whole range, its an impressive number for the small 80GB drive.
  • pesos - Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - link

    How about performance over time in virtualization scenarios? Wondering how well these SSDs hold up when they have nothing on them but virtual hard disks...
  • dealcorn - Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - link

    In Part 2, could you kindly note whether the Drive supports DEVSLP. Depending on usage pattern, not considering the drive for mobile use based on idle power requirements may be inappropriate.
  • sunbear - Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - link

    Looking at the consistency comparison against the seagate 600 pro, it looks like the intel s3500 is more consistent but unfortunately it's consistently slower in every metric. I'd rather have a seagate 600 pro with inconsistent performance if the minimum performance if that drive is better than the maximum performance of the s3500.
  • beginner99 - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    I had the same thought. agree.
  • hrrmph - Friday, June 14, 2013 - link

    As an individual drive maybe.

    For RAID, the slowest drive in the array will probably control the overall I/O rate. In that case, I don't see an advantage for Seagate over Intel.

    As I see it, the S3500 is a pro-sumer high-end workstation drive for RAID arrays, and a mid-range enterprise class drive. The S3700 is clearly a full-on high-end enterprise class drive.

    We'll have to wait for Part 2 of the article and hope that Anand gives us some comparisons to the consumer 520 series to see if there is any reason to buy an S3500 instead of a 520.

    Intel is being suspiciously quiet about the upcoming 530 series SSDs. I expect that we'll be looking at another low power consumption, high performance, relatively affordable SSD using a non-Intel controller. But, it would be nice if we could have all of that with an Intel controller instead.

  • rs2 - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    What's the deal with the first slide from Intel shown in the conclusion? Specifically, how is a 12x800GB (9.6 TB) deployment comparable to a 500x300GB (150 TB) deployment?

    The only way you can get 500 VM's on such a deployment is if you allocate only ~20 GB per VM. That's anemic. And if that's the allocation size then the 500x300GB can support over 7500 VM's.

    So...yeah, not seeing how a valid comparison is being made. Intel should be quoting figures based upon ~192 SSD's, because that's how many it takes to reach the same storage capacity as the solution it's being compared to.
  • flyingpants1 - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    I noticed the same thing.

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