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Intel 910 800GB and 400GB PCI Express Solid State Drive Review - Power Measurements and Thermal Monitoring

Intel jumps into the server PCIe flash acceleration market and in a big way. With an amazingly low price point compared to competitors, Intel aims to dominate this market segment. (NASDAQ:INTC)

| PCIe SSDs in IT/Datacenter | Posted: Jun 26, 2012 2:29 pm
TweakTown Rating: 96%      Manufacturer: Intel

Power Measurements and Thermal Monitoring

 

One of the most overlooked areas in many enterprise evaluations of storage solutions is the power consumption and the amount of heat the unit generates. Heat generation must be dealt with via a range of different types of active cooling methods. This constant need to dissipate heat away from the datacenter results in one of the highest ongoing expenses in these environments. Active cooling requires power and lots of it.

 

For every watt of power that is consumed in a datacenter there also has to be a redundancy for that power as well. This will provide the datacenter the ability to continue operating during power "˜events'. This usually consists of large banks of batteries and generators that can be a very expensive proposition.

By limiting the amount of heat that is introduced into the datacenter, the power used for climate control and redundancy costs of that power as well, are also lowered.

 

Power consumption, of both the device itself and the power needed to deal with any heat generation, sometimes costs more than the purchase of the unit itself over the lifespan of the device. Power and heat generation are significant measurements to take into consideration when making purchasing decisions.

 

The Intel 910 has a 200LFM (Linear Feet per Minute) requirement for the default power mode and 300LFM for the maximum performance mode. These requirements are easily met by the majority of cooling solutions already integrated into servers. Temperature monitoring can be handled with the Intel Data Center Tool, a Command Line Interface (CLI) for management of the SSD and monitoring of SMART and thermal data. We were also able to use AIDA 64 software to monitor the temperatures in real-time, highlighting the flexibility given through use of the LSI drivers.

 

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The testing of the Intel 910 consists of both 400GB and 800GB models, but this is actually accomplished through the use of the 800GB SSD only. Simply using only two of the four available volumes allows us to simulate the performance of the 400GB model. The other two controllers and banks of NAND still generate some heat, even if they are only idling. Unfortunately this does not allow us to test the thermal envelope of the 400GB model.

 

Our thermal observations were conducted with both the default power setting and the optional maximum power settings. This increased power draw did not equate to large differences in heat generation (within 1C), so we are only including the results with the maximum performance mode. These results were generated with 200LFM of airflow (+/- 10%). The workload testing for heat generation was conducted at a QD of 128. The results are displayed as T-Delta to Ambient. This allows for a higher level of accuracy as it accounts for any small variations in room temperature.

 

There is little variation in the amount of heat generated during the different workloads, with the largest difference being three degrees Celsius while under load.

 

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Overall keeping a low power threshold is the holy grail of high performance enterprise storage solutions. IOPS/Watts is a calculation that is used to determine the amount of IOPS that are given per Watt of power consumed. This is important, taking into consideration that typically for every watt of power consumed there is also an accompanying increase in heat that the device generates. This creates a vicious cycle of overall power consumption as the additional heat generated must also be cooled.

 

We compare both the 4K and 8K IOPS/Watts levels for random read and write with standard Steady State and Overprovisioning. The 910 performs well in these regards, with near linear scaling between the 400GB and 800GB models. The 8k random really benefits the most with the Overprovisioning. The 4K random does realize as much of a gain as the 400GB, but a gain of 10% with Overprovisioning is good.

 

The 910 overall performs well in this area with solid marks across the board.

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