Intel designed their DC S3500 SSD to deliver superior performance in an enterprise setting. The DC S3500 features host power loss protection, a genuine Intel controller, and a premium BGA packaged IMFT Flash array. Intel engineered the DC S3500 for consistent performance, scaling, and endurance in a datacenter environment.
We know from experience that SSDs designed for the enterprise sector can deliver superior performance in an enthusiast setting. For example, Seagate's 600 Series Pro, which is a direct competitor with Intel's DC S3500 SSD, proved itself a superior performer when utilized in an enthusiast setting, delivering one of our best two-drive array performances to date, proving that an enterprise pedigree makes for a superior enthusiast SSD.
Intel, looking to launch an enthusiast SSD, decided to tap its venerable enterprise-class DC S3500 and sell it as an enthusiast-class SSD. Intel's newly launched 730 series is essentially a DC S3500 with reworked firmware and a little special sauce under the hood. That special sauce comes in the form of an overclocked flash processor and 100MHz NAND flash.
As many of you know first-hand, overclocking your processor can yield a huge performance gain. Overclocking a flash processor is exactly the same concept. The 730 comes factory overclocked, and as such, is a good deal faster than the DC S3500.
The best enterprise-class SSDs are designed scale to well and provide consistent, predictable performance in a steady state. Intel places a lot of emphasis on drive scaling. Be it an enterprise or enthusiast setting, how well your drives scale in RAID has a huge impact on overall array performance. At TweakTown labs, we've documented cases where an eight-drive array composed of drives that scale well can outperform 16-drive arrays, despite having nearly identical single-drive performance.
Intel's 730 is not our performance champion when implemented in a single drive setting; it's close, but several Toshiba flash-based SSDs are capable of better overall steady state performance. However, RAID may be an entirely different story, and here's why: IMFT flash tends to provide close to 100 percent scaling (double the performance) when comparing a single SSD to a two-drive array in a steady state. Toshiba flash tends to provide about 60 percent to 70 percent scaling in real-world performance for a two-drive array in a steady state.
Will superior drive scaling produce a new two-drive RAID champion? Let's dig in and find out!