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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  • oyabun - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    I made the same observation, the Samsung has at a minimum the performance of the Intel drive and then skyrockets.
  • cheeselover - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    umm... isn't it the other way around? 600pro already has overprovisioning at 28% and s3500 has it at 9%.
  • btb - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    No Windows 8 Secure boot support?
  • btb - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    oops typo, meant Microsoft eDrive support
  • lyeoh - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    Anand, do you have IOPs/latency over time graphs for random reads as well? Or are random reads quite stable and we can derive them from the 4KB random read IO meter scores? I notice the sandforce drives seem to find random reads harder, so I'm wondering if there are any latency spikes for various drives.
  • lucasbakker - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    What about Capacitors on this controller? Why is it that nowadays in reviews I don't see any mention anymore about supercapacitors and data loss when losing power.
  • ShieTar - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    Well, those are enterprise drives, Intel probably assumes that their customers will implement their own emergency power plans in their data centers, so the drives itself don't have to.
    And on consumer drives, the potential data loss of a power outage are rather acceptable for most people. I've personally experienced one real power outage and one blown fuse over the next 25 years, so that's not really a relevant scenario for my PC buying decisions.
  • lucasbakker - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    It used to be a big issue in reviews. For databases a capacitor can be pretty important, even when taking emergency power setups in mind. Furthermore, I guess that with laptops sudden power drops are a little bit more common.
  • thomas-hrb - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    Somehow I don't see this making it into too many laptops, and enterprise SAN's etc have power failure protection. I think that it is just a feature that was in the S3700 that they did not disable in this unit, it all helps with the prosumer targeting.
  • zanon - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    Um, Anand? Why no mention of your own research showing how key over provisioning was and the immense difference it could make in performance consistency? The S3500 is significantly more expensive then other prosumer drives like the 840 Pro, Corsair Neutron, etc., and by "significant" I mean the magical "25%". That means that someone could instead choose to get another drive (or multiple other drives) and then assign 25% spare area for each, at which point from your own tests it looks like the S3500 gets SLAUGHTERED.

    Please do not throw softballs to Intel, they are big boys and can and should be expected to produce competitive, top tier stuff with no asterisks. If for some reason the far higher IOPS with better consistency produced by drives like the Corsair aren't worth the same as the Intel drive, please explain why. If there are other special features being factored in, please mention them. But even for a brief, high level overview this didn't feel like it set the proper context. You spent a great deal of time testing and discussing this stuff in the past, so to suddenly have it vanish from the conversation feels pretty weird.

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