Anyone that has been paying attention has been dazzled by the performance of Intel Optane SSDs. This is because where it matters most, Optane SSDs are delivering 5x more performance than conventional NAND-based SSDs. Optane Storage delivers a new level of system response that once experienced, you will never look at conventional NAND-based SSDs the same way again. There is fast, and then there is Optane fast.
Until today, you were limited to two choices if you wanted to go with Optane storage. You could either go with Optane Memory at up to 32GB and use it as a storage accelerator by putting it in front of a SATA HDD or SATA SSD. Or, you could break the bank and go with the world's fastest SSD, the Intel Optane SSD 900P. There was no middle ground if you wanted the power of Optane storage.
Optane Memory can be utilized as a stand-alone storage device, but at a maximum of 32GB it is a little too small for most people to consider using it for a boot drive. The enthusiast oriented 900P is not only more expensive than the average consumer is willing to spend for a boot drive, it only comes in form-factors that are probably the least popular in the consumer space.
Intel's newest Optane SSD, the Optane SSD 800P is designed to fill the gap between Optane Memory and the high-end workstation/enthusiast oriented Optane SSD 900P. The Intel Optane SSD 800P is intended to be utilized primarily as a boot only drive - meaning this is where your OS will take up residence and where your programs will be installed.
The Intel Optane SSD 800P will be initially offered at two capacity points, 58GB and 118GB. We don't know if Intel plans on releasing larger capacity points, but it's reasonable to assume so. 58GB and 118GB is typically plenty of capacity for a boot drive and programs. In fact, looking at my main work PC which is loaded up with Windows 10 64-bit and a ton of software and documents, I am only using 50GB.
Now admittedly I do have my hibernation file disabled (which saves space on the drive), because I do not use it, but as you can see, a boot drive really doesn't require much capacity. I can easily get by with the 54.8GB of user addressable capacity that a 58GB Intel Optane 800P offers. And with Optane, performance doesn't slow down one bit when the drive is almost or even completely full like we see happen with NAND-based SSDs.
This follows Intel's line of thinking with the 800P series. Create an Optane SSD with enough capacity for a boot drive and do so with a single sided M.2 design. A perfect Optane powered SSD for the masses. If you want even more capacity and more performance, you can create an RST or VROC RAID array with multiple Optane 800P SSDs provided your hardware supports doing so. In addition to reviewing the 800P as a single drive, we will also explore performance with a 3-drive RST RAID 0 array and a 4-drive Direct to CPU VROC array.
Another feature that Intel built into the 800P is something that was missing from previous Optane SSDs. Low power states. The 800P being a 2-lane SSD makes it power efficient to begin with, but to lower power consumption even further, Intel added in Deep Sleep/L1.2 power state which sips power at just 8mW. This makes the Optane 800P an ideal boot drive for mobile computing and we expect to see it inside of many upcoming OEM offerings.
Before we move on to testing the 800P, let's take a moment and go over the advantages that 3D XPoint memory media has over NAND. What is 3D XPoint memory media and why is it better than NAND? 3D XPoint memory is a joint venture between Intel and Micron (IMFT). The actual IP outside of the memory itself is separate proprietary technology. Intel calls their 3D XPoint technology "Optane". Optane consists of 3D XPoint phase-change memory, Intel memory and storage controllers, Intel interconnect IP and Intel software.
3D XPoint is superior to NAND because it is much faster and far more enduring. On a cellular level, 3D XPoint creates a new storage tier that falls between DRAM and NAND. 3D XPoint memory is technically 1000x faster than NAND, but current storage interfaces prevent 3D XPoint memory media from being exploited to its full potential. 3D XPoint is also superior to NAND because it has at minimum 10x more endurance.
Sustained performance is another major advantage that 3D XPoint has over NAND. 3D XPoint SSDs run at the same speed whether empty, or full, and under any condition. NAND-based SSDs get slower as they fill with data, and even slower when running sustained workloads. NAND SSDs rely on TRIM and GC (Garbage Collection) to maintain high performance, 3D XPoint SSDs do not.
To fully understand where performance really matters, you need to be armed with the knowledge that almost all data you use on a daily basis is random in nature. Of that data, a full 75% is random read at queue depths of 1-3. Random read performance at low queue depths is where flash-based SSDs are at their weakest and where performance matters most. The difference between SATA SSDs and flash-based NVMe SSDs when reading random data at low queue depths is minimal at best.
This is why for the most part, you cannot visibly differentiate between a PC that is running an on a flash-based SATA SDD or one running on a flash-based NVMe SSD. They both deliver virtually the same user experience. Optane technology is a game changer for one main reason - Optane cranks out random read performance at low queue depths that can be as much as 5x better than the fastest flash-based NVMe SSDs. Intel calls this giant performance leap "The New Normal". When you use a PC with Optane inside, you know it. You can feel it.
Now, let's get into this review and see for ourselves exactly what the 800P is serving up
Intel Optane SSD 800P 58GB & 118GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
- Sustained Sequential Read: up to 1,450 MB/s
- Sustained Sequential Write: up to 640 MB/s
- QD4 4K Random Read Speed: up to 250,000 IOPS
- QD4 4K Random Write Speed: up to 140,000 IOPS
- Endurance: up to 365 TBW
- MTBF: 1.6 Million Hours
- Warranty: 5-Year Limited Warranty
MSRP: 58GB = $129 MSRP: 118GB = $199
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- Page 1 [Introduction, Drive Specifications, Pricing & Availability]
- Page 2 [Drive Details]
- Page 3 [Test System Setup, Drive Properties]
- Page 4 [Synthetic Benchmarks - ATTO & Anvil Storage Utilities]
- Page 5 [Synthetic Benchmarks - CrystalDiskMark & AS SSD]
- Page 6 [Benches (OS) - Vantage, PCMark 7, PCMark 8 & SYSmark 2014 SE]
- Page 7 [Benchmarks (Secondary) - IOPS, Response & Transfer Rate]
- Page 8 [Benchmarks (Secondary Volume) - PCMark 8 Extended]
- Page 9 [Benchmarks 70/30 Mixed Workload & Sustained Seq. Write]
- Page 10 [Intel RST Chipset 3-Drive RAID 0 Array on Z270]
- Page 11 [Intel VROC Direct to CPU 4-Drive RAID 0 Array on X299]
- Page 12 [Maxed-Out Performance (MOP)]
- Page 13 [Final Thoughts]
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