One of the overriding goals of the open source NVMe specification is to enable faster development of commoditized PCIe SSDs. NVMe's improved protocol stack, refined command set, and parallel command queue will power the future of all non-volatile based memory. Intel was part of a large industry consortium that helped develop the NVMe standard, but they are first to the market with retail products.
Today's IT departments are tasked with managing growing workloads with increasingly small budgets. This is leading to new scale out architectures and clustering techniques that require high performance. The DC P3700 can replace several SSDs and remove the need for cabling, HBA's, or RAID adapters, and accelerate performance, all in a small footprint.
Flash is a big piece of the performance puzzle, but cost is always a relevant metric. Intel's previous generation 910 featured a disruptive low price point, and the new Intel DC P3700 follows the same trend. The DC P3700's price is competitive with the high performance segment and features stout endurance metrics. The coming P3500 and P3600 versions will lower the entry-level price for PCIe SSDs. Perhaps most impressive, the entry and mid-level products tout solid performance in mixed workloads and sufficient endurance for lighter workloads.
Low price points are nice, but pairing them with a reliable design is also important. It is hard to gauge Intel's reliability in comparison to other manufacturers, simply because most manufacturers do not release failure rate data. Intel's willingness to disclose failure rate data highlights their commitment to reliability and their exhaustive interoperability tests ensure broad compatibility. There is the notable caveat that Intel's disclosed AFR rates does not include the new P series, but it highlights that their design and validation methodology is sound.
Intel brought performance consistency to the forefront with their datacenter series of SATA SSDs, and the DC 3700 continues that trend. We noted solid performance consistency in our server workloads. Intel is also refining their performance tuning by focusing on enhanced scaling in low load conditions. In our tests, we observed the DC P3700 performing very well in the middle ground, and it performed very well in heavy random write workloads. Performance was also very strong in mixed random workloads, where it tended to best the competition. Sequential read speed trailed competitors, but the DC P3700 scored a convincing win in sequential write workloads by nearly 1 GB/s.
The only area we found lacking in the DC S3700 was the management utility. The ISSDCT only comes in a CLI form. Intel's competitors employ GUI interfaces that minimize the amount of time needed to poll and monitor the drive, while also retaining the same CLI and similar out-of-band management features. The ISSDCT utility is functional, but does not provide many of the real-time monitoring features we have come to expect.
The DC P3700 features end-to-end data protection, power fail protection, and other features expected of a flagship PCIe SSD, and Intel guarantees the drive for five years. Its robust performance, excellent latency, and cutting-edge NVMe interface merit the TweakTown Editor's Choice Award.
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