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Intel DC P3608 1.6TB Enterprise PCIe NVMe SSD Review (Page 3)

By Jon Coulter from Sep 23, 2015 @ 11:00 CDT
TweakTown Rating: 96%Manufacturer: Intel

Jon's Enterprise SSD Review Test System Specifications

  • Motherboard: ASRock Rack EPC612D8A-TB (Intel C612 chipset) - Buy from Amazon
  • CPU: Intel Xeon E5-2698 V3 - Buy from Amazon
  • Cooler: Supermicro Air Cooling
  • Memory: Samsung 64GB DDR4 ECC 2133MHz - Buy from Amazon
  • Video Card: Onboard Video
  • Power Supply: Seasonic Platinum 1000 Watt - Buy from Amazon
  • OS: Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 - Buy from Amazon
  • Drivers: Microsoft AHCI
  • Drivers: Intel RSTe 4.3 for NVMe

We would like to thank ASRock Rack, Crucial, Intel, Samsung, Seagate, and Seasonic for making our test system possible.

TweakTown's Enterprise SSD testing methodology replicates enterprise environments as closely as possible. Our test systems use strictly enterprise based hardware. Enterprise chipsets, Intel Xeon processors, ECC DRAM, and standard air-cooling. Storage drivers are Windows standard drivers, except as otherwise required for the test device to operate as designed.

TweakTown strictly adheres to industry-accepted Enterprise Solid State Storage testing procedures. Each test we perform repeats the same sequence of the following four steps:

  1. Secure Erase SSD
  2. Write entire capacity of SSD a minimum of 2x with 128KB sequential write data, seamlessly transition to next step
  3. Precondition SSD at maximum QD measured (QD32 for SATA, QD256 for PCIe) with the test specific workload for a sufficient amount of time to reach a constant steady-state, seamlessly transition to next step
  4. Run test specific workload for 5-minutes at each measured Queue Depth, record results

We chart workload preconditioning IOPS or MB/s and latency for each specific test. We plot workload preconditioning using scatter charts with each recorded 1-second data point represented on the chart, allowing us to see some of the performance variability exhibited by our test subjects. We chart workloads using line charts plotting average workload IOPS or MB/s and latency at each measured QD. Utilizing line charts provides a good visual perspective of the test subject's performance curve.

To summarize, we test with Enterprise hardware, Windows Server Operating System, and we strictly adhere to industry-accepted Enterprise SSD testing procedures. Our goal is to provide results that are consistent, reliable, and repeatable.

Intel's given performance specifications are for a RAID 0 volume on the drive. As mentioned, the DC P3608 is two SSDs on one card. If utilized as two separate volumes, these performance figures will be cut approximately in half. With this in mind, we will be testing the DC P3608 two ways, as a 1.6TB RAID 0 volume and as an 800GB single volume. Until now, the only way to RAID PCIe SSDs was to use MS disk striping or to create a Storage Spaces virtual volume with Windows Server OS. These methods do not allow the user to configure stripe sizes. Stripe sizes play a key role in creating an array that will deliver maximum performance based on workload applications. Intel has changed that with the introduction of RSTe 4.3 for NVMe. This new driver/control panel allows NVMe SSDs to be configured in an array with various stripe sizes to suit the end-user's particular needs.

Here is how we created a RAID 0 array on the DC P3608 for this review:


Select NVMe Devices Controller. Select RAID 0.


Select both NVMe SSDs that comprise the DC P3608. The standard setting is for a 95% array allocation, but we chose 100% allocation because the want to test the entire LBA span of our RAID volume.


We chose 128 KB stripes for our volume, which is the default, but you can choose stripe sizes from 4 KB - 128 KB.


Our drive now shows up as a RAID volume.


A quick check of device manager lists an RSTe Virtual Controller after creating a RAID 0 volume on the drive. Before getting into our steady-state testing, we decided to run a couple of quick benches on our empty RAID 0 volume to verify we were getting speeds that meet or exceeded Intel's specifications:


984,000 4K Random Read IOPS; that exceeds Intel's 850,000 IOPS specification by quite a bit, which is what we would expect to see from an empty FOB volume.


7,100 MB/s Sequential Read speed also exceeds Intel's 5,000 MB/s specification by a large margin; again, this is what we would expect to see from an empty FOB volume. Let's get into the review and see what sustained performance (steady-state) looks like.

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