Final Words

The vast majority of PCIe SSDs have been disappointing up to this point. We either saw poorly implemented designs that offered SATA RAID on a PCIe card or high priced, proprietary PCIe designs. The arrival of NVMe gives SSDs the breathing room they need to continue to grow. We finally get a low latency, low overhead interface and we get to shed SATA once and for all.

Intel's SSD DC P3700 gives us our first look at an NVMe drive, and the results are impressive. A single P3700 can deliver up to 450K random read IOPS, 150K random write IOPS and nearly 2GB/s of sequential writes. Sequential reads are even more impressive at between 2 - 3GB/s. All of this performance comes with very low latency operation thanks to an updated controller and the new NVMe stack. CPU efficiency is quite good thanks to NVMe as well. You get all of this at $3/GB, or less ($1.4975/GB) if you're willing to give up some performance and endurance. As an enterprise drive, the P3700 is an excellent option. I can't imagine what a few of these would do in a server. At some of the price points that Intel is talking about for the lower models, the P3xxx series won't be too far out of the reach of performance enthusiasts either. 

Intel's P3700 launch deck had a slide that put the P3700's performance in perspective compared to the number of SATA SSDs it could replace. I found the comparison interesting so I ran similar data, assuming perfect RAID scaling from adding together multiple DC S3700s. The comparison isn't perfect (capacity differences for one), but here's what I came up with:

A single P3700 ends up replacing 4 - 6 high performance SATA drives. If you don't need high sustained 4KB random write performance, you can get similar numbers out of the cheaper P3600 and P3500 as well. This is a very big deal.

Once again we see Intel at the forefront of a new wave of SSDs. What I really want to see now however is continued execution. We don't see infrequent blips of CPU architecture releases from Intel, we get a regular, 2-year tick-tock cadence. It's time for Intel's NSG to be given the resources necessary to do the same. I long for the day when we don't just see these SSD releases limited to the enterprise and corporate client segments, but spread across all markets - from mobile to consumer PC client and of course up to the enterprise as well.

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  • 457R4LDR34DKN07 - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    No, they are 4x pcie 2.5" SFF-8639 drives here is a good article describing the differences between satae and 2.5" SFF-8639 drives:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6294/breaking-the-sa...
    Reply
  • Qasar - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    ok.. BUT.. that's not what i asked.... will this type of drive, ie the NVMe type.. be on some other type of connection besides PCIe 4x ?? as i said :

    depending on ones usage... finding a PCIe slot to put a drive like this in.. may not be possible, specially in SLI/Crossfire... add the possibility of a sound card or raid card..

    cause one can quickly run out of PCIe slots, or have slots covered/blocked by other PCIe cards ... right now, for example. i have an Asus P6T and due to my 7970.. the 2nd PCIe 16 slot.. is unusable and the 3rd slot.. has a raid card in it.. on a newer board.. it may be different.. but sill SLI/Crossfire.. can quickly cover up slots ... or block them ... hence.. will NVMe type drives also be on sata express ??
    Reply
  • 457R4LDR34DKN07 - Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - link

    right and what I told you is that 2.5" SFF-8639 is also offered. You can probably plug it into a sata express connector but you will only realize 2x pci-e 3.0 speeds IE 10gb/s. Reply
  • xdrol - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    It takes 5x 200 GB drives to match the performance of a 1.6 TB drive? That does not sound THAT good... Make it 8x and it's even. Reply
  • Lonyo - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    Now make a motherboard with 8xPCIe slots to put those drives in. Reply
  • hpvd - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    sorry only 7 :-(
    http://www.supermicro.nl/products/motherboard/Xeon...
    :-)
    Reply
  • hpvd - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    some technical data for the lower capicity models could be fund here:
    http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/solid-state...
    maybe this is interesting to be added to the article...
    Reply
  • huge pile of sticks - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    but can it run crysis? Reply
  • Homeles - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    It can run 1,000 instances of Crysis. A kilocrysis, if you will. Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    How is 200 uS considered low latency? What a joke. If intel had any ambitions besides playing second fiddle to apple and ARM, then they would put the SSD controller on the cpu and create a DIMM type interface for the NAND. Then they would have read latencies in the 1 to 10 uS range, and even less latency as they improve their caching techniques. It's true that you wouldnt be able to address more than a couple TB of NAND through such an interface, but it would be so blazing fast that it could be shadowed using SATA SSDs with very little perceived performance loss over the entire address space. Think big cache for NAND, call it L5 or whatnot. It would do for storage what L2 did for cpus. Reply

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