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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  • gospadin - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    tRead on MLC NAND is > 50us. 10us latency will never be achievable with an MLC NAND back-end without a redesign of the NAND array. Reply
  • mavere - Friday, June 6, 2014 - link

    "I am angry because my ridiculous fantasies aren't fulfilled." Reply
  • Antronman - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    Fusion iO blows it all away. Reply
  • TelstarTOS - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    did they make it bootable on windows after what 8 years? Reply
  • extide - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    At what cost?

    I'd definitely like to see some FusionIO benches on this site...
    Reply
  • TelstarTOS - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    At last Intel showed its muscles again.
    If in a 6 month timeframe something similar and cheaper doesnt come out, the 400GB P3600 will be my next SSD. Looking forward SF3700 really curiously now.
    Reply
  • Kevin G - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    I love the raw speed that this delivers. It does not hold anything back in terms of performance. I'm genuinely excited as to what a full blown server implementation using 16x PCIe 3.0 could provide.

    My only issue is one of capacity and cost per GB of storage. It is good to see 2 TB solutions but honestly I was hoping for a bit more. Moving away from the 2.5" SATA, M.2 and mSATA formats should enable far more NAND packages. I can see Intel limiting these consumer/prosumer cards to lower capacities to keep the higher capacity units in the enterprise space where ultra fast storage carries a higher premium. Speaking of costs, I was prepared to accept this as costing a bit more but not this much. Things like moving to an 18 channel design and the cost of the NVMe controller would be more expensive but not quiet this much. I was hoping to see something closer to $1/GB as the 2.5" SATA market is well below that and starting to approach $0.50/GB. Speed can carry a premium but those lower $/GB SATA drives are still pretty fast on their own.

    Actually are there any subjective impressions? Does the P3700 feel noticeably faster in day-to-day usage than a generic 2.5" SATA SDD?

    I'd also like to see some boot testing. Generally there are some quirks here and there that crop up with technology introductions.
    Reply
  • kaix2 - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    with the p3700 drive rated at 10dw/d it's aimed at high end enterprise. expecting $1/GB for this high end of a drive isn't realistic. also it's not a fair comparison if you simply compare the price of this drive to an average consumer sata drive and not take nand endurance and quality into account. Reply
  • Sacco_svd - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    P3700 / 2048gb*3dollar = 6144 dollars

    P3500 / 2048gb*1.469dollar = 3061.76 dollars

    If those are going to be the prices they're still not competitively cheap, by a big margin.
    Reply
  • balindad - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    As mentioned else where, could you drop this in on any open pcie and have it work and bootable with no other upgrades needed as long as you're running windows 8? Reply

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