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Intel DC S3500 480GB Enterprise SSD Review (Page 1)

Intel DC S3500 480GB Enterprise SSD Review

Intel launches the DC S3500 Enterprise SSD for read-centric applications and light mixed workloads with enterprise-class features at rock bottom pricing. The DC S3500 targets the rapidly growing mainstream SSD market, follow us as we review it.

By Paul Alcorn on Jun 11, 2013 02:31 pm CDT - 2 mins, 56 secs reading time for this page
Rating: 91%Manufacturer: Intel


Intel DC S3500 480GB Enterprise SSD Review 01 |

Intel's launch of the 6Gb/s DC S3500 bolsters their existing SSD product stack with an MLC mainstream enterprise SSD. Featuring Intel's third-generation PC29AS21CA0 (an 8-Channel ASIC) in concert with 20nm MLC NAND provides the DC S3500 with up to 75,000/11,500 random read/write IOPS and 500/450 MB/s of sustained sequential read/write speed.

The mainstream SSD market is booming and many administrators are choosing to deploy mainstream SSDs to address performance challenges in read-centric and mixed workload environments. The high performance envelope of enterprise SSDs boosts system performance up front, and the long-term advantages of radically lower power consumption, space reduction, and cooling costs drive TCO down even further.

One of the most pressing needs in today's datacenters is optimization of the compute layer. Performance is often hamstrung by I/O bound systems, leading to servers that operate with much lower CPU utilization than possible. The explosion of virtualization and the resulting 'I/O Blender' of sporadic highly random workloads require storage solutions with consistently high performance and low latency. Boosting the efficiency of the storage subsystem feeds the CPU with enough data to operate efficiently, creating more production and density per server.

The Intel DC S3500 (codename Wolfsville) is designed to provide a more cost-friendly alternative for those in need of acceleration with enterprise-class features at a lower price point. The DC S3500 (DC for Datacenter and S for SATA) provides a mainstream alternative to the Intel DC S3700, yet retains many similar characteristics.

The DC S3500 aligns itself to replace the Intel 320 customer base, offering seven times the endurance and 85% improved random read performance over the 320 Series. The 320 arrived in early 2011 and a replacement for the 3Gb/s 320 series is overdue. Intel's goal is to replace the 320 with an SSD with similar characteristics to the DC S3700.

The primary differentiator between the S3500 and the S3700 is the NAND employed. The DC S3500 utilizes 20nm MLC NAND in contrast to the 25nm HET-MLC NAND onboard the DC S3700. This provides a lower endurance threshold that is more suitable to read-centric and mixed workloads. The DC S3500 features a maximum of 450 TB Written for an 800GB capacity drive, and we expect endurance to scale with the various capacity points. The DC S3700, in contrast, offers up to 14.6PB of endurance for the 800GB model.

The DC S3500, with the same controller as the DC S3700, also focuses on performance consistency. Performance variability can rob applications of performance. Individual 'hangs' and lags from outlying I/O can significantly affect application performance simply because applications are forced into waiting for the next I/O to complete. The DC S3500 does not have quite the robust write latency specifications of the DC S3700, focusing more on read latency performance. The DC S3500 guarantees a maximum read latency of 500ms 99.9% of the time during a 4k random workload, and 50/65uS typical read/write latency.

Many administrators have experimented with utilizing standard client SSDs in enterprise environments and have suffered the consequences of inconsistent performance. The DC S3500 will rival client-side offerings with a price of roughly $1.22 per GB at launch. Delivering performance consistency and reliable performance at this price range will provide Intel a solid entrant into the booming value/mainstream SSD market.

Providing solid performance with a host of enterprise features such as end-to-end data path protection, 256-bit AES encryption, ECC protected memory, power loss protection, and a five year limited warranty rounds out the impressive feature set of the DC S3500.

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Paul Alcorn


The quest for benchmark world records led Paul further and further down the overclocking rabbit hole. SSDs and RAID controllers were a big part of that equation, allowing him to push performance to the bleeding edge. Finding the fastest and most extreme storage solutions led to experience with a myriad of high-end enterprise devices. Soon testing SSDs and Enterprise RAID controllers at the limits of their performance became Paul's real passion, one that is carried out through writing articles and reviews.

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