Joins the likes of OCZ, Super Talent, OWC and Mushkin in the PCIe SSD race.
Intel is has released its first PCIe SSD, the 910-Series, to join the likes of OCZ, Super Talent, OWC and Mushkin in the PCIe SSD race.
In October, 2011, VR-Zone leaked a roadmap slide that features a PCIe SSD for Q2, 2012. At the time of the leaked information, the PCIe SSD was known as Intel SSD 720 "Ramsdale" Series. The original information on the 720-series had read and write speeds of up to 2200 MB/s and 1800 MB/s, respectively. In addition, it was set to deliver some 180,000 IOPS 4K read and 56,000 IOPS 4K write.
The 720-series never came to light based on the originally leaked information. The only information originally leaked that looks to be held true is that the 910-series will be using Intel's new 25 nm HET-MLC NAND flash memory, which was first introduced with the 710-series.
Now the official information from Intel shows the 910-series is available in two capacities, 400 GB and 800 GB, which are more in-line with other enterprise-based PCIe SSDs by other manufactures. The 400 GB and 800 GB SSDs have two and four NAND
modules, respectively. Each NAND module contains 200 GB of NAND flash memory capacity with its own NAND ASIC featuring SAS interface support of up to 6 Gb/s. On the host side, the Intel SSD 910 Series supports PCIe 2.0 bus speeds. An on-chip PCIe-to-SAS bridge chip supports this translation.
Intel lists the sequential read performance as up to 1 GB/s (400 GB) and 2 GB/s (800 GB) based on the capacity. The write performance is rated up to 750 MB/s (400 GB) and 1 GB/s (800 GB) based on capacity. As far as IOPS are concerned, the 400 GB model offers 90,000 IOPS reads, with 38,000 IOPS writes; while the 800 GB model provides 180,000 IOPS reads, with 75,000 IOPS writes.
With the 910-series set to be an enterprise based PCIe SSD, the endurance of these drives becomes a major factor to would-be users. Intel is rating the two models at 7 PB (400 GB) and 14 PB (800 GB), whereas the 710-series only offered 1.5 PB using over-provisioning. The 910-series card measures in at 2.7165" x 6.6142" x 0.748" (HxWxD), which is a low-profile PCIe card. It utilizes a standard PCIe 2.0 x8 interface for both models. Intel list the power consumption at 25 W typical active power draw, with idle power draw at 8 W (400 GB) and 12 W (800 GB) respectively.
Pricing for the Intel SSD 910 Series is $1,929 for the 400 GB capacity and $3,859 for 800 GB. It comes with a 5-year limited warranty.
Doug Crowthers is a contributing editor and freelance writer for feature articles and news at Tom's Hardware.
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