3D XPoint memory is my favorite storage technology to discuss. Intel's Optane series comes falls under the SSD category, but that is misleading. Every SSD before Optane used NAND flash technology that needs a figurative running head start to reach peak performance. The early products focused on enterprise workloads capable of reaching high queue depth loads; several IO requests happening at the same time.
In a normal user workload, even with a workstation-level multitasking, the real-world queue depths are very low and almost never allow flash-based devices to run at full speed. 3D XPoint memory, the technology used in Intel's Optane series products is different. The memory can reach much higher speeds, at significantly lower latency, at common user-level workloads.
Due to the marketing materials, and lack of other "beyond-NAND" technologies, we still we still compare next-generation storage media products to flash, but it's not a fair comparison. The marketing martial dilutes the performance of 3D XPoint and amplifies flash. The technology has skeptics that have not experienced it firsthand and are complicit in passing judgments without opening the book. We always feel the need to set the record straight when we talk about Optane SSDs
Intel targets professional users with a large capacity requirement for application workloads with the latest 1.5TB Optane SSD 905P. The expense will keep gamers and many PC enthusiasts away from this large capacity model, but professional users looking to accelerate processing time to gain larger profits will benefit from the latest in the ultra-high-speed series.
Intel has slowly increased the capacity of the Optane SSD 900P/905P in planned stages that coincide with stuffing more 3D XPoint die in each package. The new 1.5TB is the largest Optane SSD we've tested and the largest we've spotted on leaked roadmaps. The performance matches the 960GB and 480GB 905P models, and slightly higher than the 480GB and 280GB 900P drives.
Intel claims sequential read performance at 2,600 MB/s and, sequential write performance of 2,200 MB/s. The sequential performance is lower than Samsung's 970 Pro NVMe SSD. This is the first instance where the paper numbers differ from reality. We will talk about this in more detail in the review.
Similarly, Intel's claimed random read performance of 575,000 IOPS and random write IOPS rating of 550,000 are not as high as some new flash-based SSD's rating of 600,000. We will show in the testing portion of the review why neither performance rating is applicable to most users.
The new 1.5TB model ships in two form factors, the add-in card we have to test today and a smaller 2.5" U.2 model that is easier to combine with other drives in RAID using hot-swappable drive bays.
Pricing, Warranty, And Endurance
One of the biggest complaints about the Optane SSD 900P/905P series rests in the cost of ownership. These series straddles the line between enthusiasts and professional user groups. The lower capacity drives, 280GB (900P) and the 480GB (both 900P and 905P) are affordable enough for enthusiasts and power users with drives selling for $320.99 and $509.99, respectively. The 905P 960GB shoots the cost up to $1,317 at the time of writing. The new 905P 1.5TB we're testing today sells for $2,199.99 in both the 2.5" U.2 and add-in card form factors. We managed to find both just prior to publishing this article, but availability was not as widespread as the smaller size models previously released.
Optane series SSDs garner attention for performance but these products also deliver exceptional endurance that goes well beyond the capabilities of flash. The new 1.5TB Optane SSD 905P gives users up to 27.37PB of data written to the media.
A Closer Look
The add-in card features LED lighting defaults to the blue hue. Users can change the diffused lighting to red or green using a command line tool. You can also turn the lighting off to conserve power. What fun is that?
Most looking at the 1TB Optane SSD 905P will never actually see the drive. HP Z-Series workstations don't have windows on the side of the case.
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