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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  • nathanddrews - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    The difference is that the S3500 comes over provisioned and the others don't. While you and I have the knowledge and skill to do it ourselves, most people - even IT staff - would have zero clue or interest in how to do something like that.
  • zanon - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    Give me a break, "most people" aren't interested in an S3500 period or even a prosumer drive, their primary focus would be capacity and cost (since at that level any modern SSD at all will be great). By definition, anyone interested in this or other such drives isn't "most people". "IT staff" or prosumers can perfectly well format/partition a drive, an easy GUI for it comes with every OS they'd use, it's hardly the kind of technical operation that'd make it a rare case. And since it only ever needs to be done once and then can be ignored forever, it can even be setup by someone else.

    Anand has considered it important enough to spend significant time on and test in all other recent reviews, and I think that speaks for itself. It's of direct relevance.
  • cheeselover - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    does increasing overprovising on the intel drive change the performance much? this article compares s3500 to 600 pro but overprovising is much higher on the seagate drive (512gb of flash to get 400gb of storage). the intel drive is listed as 264gb of flash for 240gb and that translate to 512gb of flash for 480gb.

    also wondering how the pricing works out considering for the same amount of flash the seagate drives get 20% less storage space.
  • sallgeud - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    As of right now it's been nearly 6 weeks since the last retailer and wholesaler received their shipments of S3700s. The word from most of them is that we're at least 6 more weeks away from the next expected deliveries. For those of us in the server world, it would be great if they could just produce and ship what they already make... and thus far throwing money at my monitor has done nothing.
  • mtoma - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    Regarding the testing methodology: on page 3, Mr. Shimpi said (as usual) the following: "To generate the data below I took a freshly secure erased SSD and filled it with sequential data". Ok, so how EXACTLY he did that? I mean, secure erasing the Intel SSD. I was in a couple of very frustrating positions, when I tried to secure erase Intel and Samsung SSD's, following the kind (read DUMB) suggestions of Samsung SSD Magician and Intel SSD Toolbox. On the Samsung drive I finnaly did it, I secure erased the drive. On Intel, no way. Intel SSD Toolbox kept saing that I must power down the drive, and then power on. But that din't work. I noticed a lot of angry users of Intel SSDs who could not secure erase their drive.
    So allow me to repeat the question: HOW MR. SHIMPI SECURE ERASED THE DRIVE? Thanks!
  • alainiala - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    Interesting, the comment about the high idle power usage making this drive not ideal for consumer use... Our channel partner was recommending this as a replacement for the 320 Series for our laptops.
  • mjz - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    why would you even have to upgrade the SSDs in the laptops? I think your channel partner is just trying to make some money. The intel 320 ssd when used in a laptop is good for 98% of tasks
  • neodan - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    Unrelated question but if you guys had a choice between having the Crucial M500 480GB or the Samsung 830 512GB for the same price which would pick overall?
  • Wolfpup - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    I continue to be a firm believer in Micron/Crucial and Intel's drives-quality and reliability and non-flakieness over (sometimes) better performance. ANY decent SSD for years now has provided crazy performance. As far as I'm concerned, that's now a moot point, save for drives that dip super low weirdly.

    What I care about is reliability and the testing these two companies do compared to other companies. I mean whoopdedo if one company makes an SSD that's 400 bajillion MB/s and another does 400 bajillian + 20 MB/s if the latter is going to corrupt my data after six months.

    I've currently got two Intel drives and Crucial in active use (one in my Playstation 3) and all of them have run great with zero issues. Thrilled that Intel's using their own controllers again and not the "we spent an entire year fixing Sandforce's gigantic bugs and it still has gigantic bugs" Sandforce stuff.

    Hmm, I guess actually I have a Samsung in my Macbook which has been okay too.
  • Juddog - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    Excellent job Anand! I just hope Intel can keep up with supplying these things; I tried to get my hands on an S3700 after they came out and they were all completely sold out everywhere.

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