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Intel Optane SSD 905P 960GB AIC NVMe PCIe SSD Review

Intel Optane SSD 905P 960GB AIC NVMe PCIe SSD Review

Intel's enthusiast Optane SSD 9 series get's a performance boost and an LED makeover.

@JonCoulterSSD
Published Wed, May 9 2018 10:00 AM CDT   |   Updated Thu, Jul 30 2020 4:20 PM CDT
Rating: 100%Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction, Drive Specifications, Pricing & Availability

Hardcore enthusiasts take note. The best just got even better. Intel's Optane SSD 905P builds on the success of their 900P series by offering double the capacity, more performance and a bit of LED bling on the AIC (Add-In-Card) model.

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VIEW GALLERY - 107 IMAGES

Intel's Optane SSDs are not your average run of the mill solid state storage devices. Optane is unique in the storage world, because it is the only SSD that is not flash-based. Intel's Optane SSDs are based on IMFT 3D XPoint (cross point) non-volatile phase-change memory media.

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Optane consists of 3D XPoint 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 memory media is 1000x faster than NAND, but due to bus limitations; the entire performance potential of 3D XPoint cannot be fully exploited with current generation hardware.

Bus limitations aside, Optane is breakthrough technology that has ushered in a paradigm shift in non-volatile storage performance. You may not think so by looking at sequential performance specs which tend to be the focus of the average user. Sequential performance can be meaningful in very limited data-transfer scenarios, but sequential performance is virtually a non-factor as it relates to system performance.

Think of it this way. If you run a 100-drive array composed of mechanical HDD's and it spits out 15GB per second sequential performance, does that mean it will deliver superior system performance? The answer, of course, is no. It's all about latency - latency where it matters most. Latency in the typical operating region of QD1-QD4 has the greatest impact on system performance which is why SSDs have changed the storage landscape forever. One low-end SSD will deliver far more system performance than a hundred mechanical SSDs in RAID will.

Random performance within the typical operating region of QD1-4 directly impacts system performance because system data is all random and SSDs access the vast majority of that data within the operating region. Of that random data, 70-80 percent of it is read, 20-30 percent is write in typical use-case scenarios. This information illustrates the importance of random read performance at QD1-4 in relation to system performance.

Now that we know where we should focus our attention as it relates to performance that actually matters, let's talk about what Intel's Optane technology brings to the table. Optane is revolutionary because it delivers up to 7x the performance of NAND-based NVMe SSDs where it matters most - 4K random read at QD1-4. This is what makes Optane game-changing technology and why it matters to those of us that demand the best system performance possible from our PC's.

Optane SSDs do not suffer flaws inherent to NAND-based SSDs. All NAND-based SSDs rely on garbage collection and wear leveling to keep NAND blocks fresh and ready to use. This works fine if the workload is small enough and brief enough to keep this drive maintenance running in the background. However, as NAND-based SSDs fill with data and workloads become larger, garbage collection and wear leveling must run at the same time as the workload is running.

When drive maintenance is taking place at the same time as a sustained workload is running, performance takes a nose-dive as illustrated by this chart:

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All NAND-based SSDs suffer dramatic performance degradation when drive maintenance takes place while a workload is running and the drive is filled with data. Optane does not suffer the same fate. Optane doesn't need internal drive maintenance to keep blocks fresh. Optane's sustained performance doesn't degrade like NAND-based SSDs. With Optane you get full performance across the full span of the drive while running intensive workloads.

Another huge advantage Intel Series 9 Optane SSDs have over their flash-based consumer counterparts is endurance. Currently, the best flash-based consumer SSDs slot in at about 1/2 drive-write per day of endurance. Intel's Optane Series 9 SSDs are rated for 10 drive-writes per day of endurance, or roughly 20x better than we typically see from consumer-oriented flash-based SSDs.

Now that we've made the case for why Intel Optane SSDs are superior to flash-based SSDs, let's focus on why Intel's Optane SSD 905P is the most powerful and desirable iteration of Optane to date.

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With double the capacity of Intel's Optane SSD 900P Series, Intel's Optane SSD 905P Series is ideally suited for handling larger data sets than are possible with the Optane 900P. The 905P is more powerful than the 900P, delivering better random read/write and sequential performance than its predecessor. More capacity and better performance make the 905P the pinnacle of storage performance in a workstation or enthusiast environment.

The 905P employs a newer version of the same Intel controller that powers the 900P series. The newest version sports a higher clock rate improving max 4K random read/write performance by 25K/50K respectively. Sequential specifications also get a bump; increasing by 100MB/s for read, 200MB/s for write. Additionally, the upper operating temperature range has been expanded from 70c to 85c which means thermals are less of a concern than before.

On the pricing front, nothing has changed. The 905P like the 900P is the most expensive consumer SSD on the market coming in at about $1.36 per gigabyte of raw storage capacity. However, when you consider the performance and endurance you get for that price, the 905P could be the best overall value for a high-performance storage device.

Specifications

Intel Optane SSD 905P PCIe NVMe SSD

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  • Sustained Sequential Read: up to 2,600 MB/s
  • Sustained Sequential Write: up to 2,200 MB/s
  • Max 4K Random Read Speed: up to 575,000 IOPS
  • Max 4K Random Write Speed: up to 550,000 IOPS
  • Endurance: 480GB up to 8,760 TBW
  • Endurance: 960GB up to 17,520 TBW
  • MTBF: 1.6 Million Hours
  • Warranty: 5-Year Limited Warranty

MSRP: 480GB = $599.99 MSRP: 960GB = $1299.99

The 905P series will be offered in two capacities and two form factors - U.2 and HHHL Add-In-Card (AIC). At this time, the U.2 form factor is only available at 480GB. Currently, only the AIC form factor is available at the 960GBGB capacity point. It is important to note that unlike flash-based SSDs, Optane SSDs don't rely on capacity for higher performance. The 480GB 905P is just as fast as the 960GB 905P. The SSD 905P Series is rated for 10 drive-writes per day of endurance for 5-years.

Drive Details

Intel Optane SSD 905P 960GB AIC PCIe NVMe SSD

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Intel's Optane SSD 905P packaging is one of the most attractive we've seen.

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The back of the packaging features an image of the enclosed SSD, lists a bit of pertinent information about the enclosed SSD, its warranty, form factor, and included optional low-profile bracket.

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The drive and additional mounting bracket are cradled in dense foam rubber cut-outs.

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The front of the drive is covered by a full-length aluminum heat sink. LED's are striped along the edges.

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The rear of the drive is covered by protective metal plate. There is a manufacturer label located close to the mounting bracket.

We will not be doing a teardown for fear of damaging the drive. We can tell you what is on the inside though. The 905P is powered by a 7-channel Intel NVMe controller. The 905P 960GB AIC is populated with (28) 3D XPoint memory packages. 7x32GB+7x64GB front and 14x32GB rear - 1,120GB in total. Optane memory media does not require overprovisioning, so we assume the extra capacity is used for ECC and redundancy. The 905P is a DRAM-less design.

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There are airflow vent holes located at the mounting bracket and airflow channels that open at the back of the heat sink.

Test System Setup & Drive Properties

Jon's Consumer PCIe SSD Review Z270 Test System Specifications

Jon's Consumer PCIe SSD Review Z370 Test System Specifications

Jon's Consumer X299 PCIe SSD Review Test System Specifications

We would like to thank ASRock, Crucial, Intel, Corsair, RamCity, IN WIN, and Seasonic for making our test systems possible.

Drive Properties

Intel Optane SSD 905P AIC PCIe NVMe SSD OS Disk 75% Full - Z370 Patched

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Intel Optane SSD 905P AIC PCIe NVMe SSD OS Disk 75% Full - Z270 Unpatched

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The majority of our testing is performed with the test subject as our boot volume. Our boot volume is 75% full for all OS Disk "C" drive testing to replicate a typical consumer OS volume implementation. We feel that most of you will be utilizing your SSDs for your boot volume and that presenting you with results from an OS volume is more relevant than presenting you with empty secondary volume results.

System settings: Cstates and Speed stepping are both disabled in our systems BIOS. Windows High-Performance power plan is enabled. We are utilizing Windows 10 Pro 64-bit OS (Build 14393) for unpatched testing and Build 16299 for patched testing except for our MOP (Maxed-Out Performance) benchmarks where we switch to Windows Server 2008 R2 64-bit. Empty Windows 10 benchmark screenshots will also be shown on our MOP page.

With spectre/meltdown exploits a concern for many of our readers, we will be showing results both patched and unpatched. Patching for the exploits causes a performance decline that is significant in some cases, so we decided to show performance both patched and unpatched. None of our comparison SSDs were tested on a patched system. Additionally, we decided to show our readers with Intel's X299 platform some love by running some Win 10 (unpatched) MOP benches on our X299 test system.

Please note: When comparing our results to those of other review sites, look at page 10 Maxed Out Performance-Windows 10 which is done with the disk empty.

Benchmark screenshots will be shown Z370 patched, followed by Z270 unpatched. We verified that both test systems produce identical results when patched or unpatched. The exception is SYSmark where Z370 delivers a higher total score than Z270.

Synthetic Benchmarks - ATTO & Anvil Storage Utilities

ATTO

Version and / or Patch Used: 3.05

ATTO is a timeless benchmark used to provide manufacturers with data used for marketing storage products. When evaluating ATTO performance we focus on the drive's performance curve.

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Full performance is achieved at 32KB transfers. We can see that unpatched delivers significantly better small-file performance than patched.

Sequential Write

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Overall, Samsung's 970 EVO displays the best performance curve of the bunch. The 905P's unpatched performance curve is better than the 900P and the 905P tops out at a higher rate. Patched vs. unpatched performance is equal on the low-end and on the top end. The important middle-ground is where patched performance takes a big hit.

Sequential Read

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Overall, the 905P slightly outperforms the 900P, but both are edged out for the top spot by the 960 Pro. There are other SSDs in our test pool that achieve higher transfer rates on the top end, but their performance curve is inferior.

Anvil Storage Utilities

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1.0

Anvil's Storage Utilities is a storage benchmark designed to measure the storage performance of SSDs. The Standard Storage Benchmark performs a series of tests; you can run a full test or just the read or write test, or you can run a single test, i.e. 4K QD16. When evaluating performance with Anvils, we focus on total score. When evaluating NVMe SSDs we are typically looking for a minimum total score of over 10K. We place a greater importance on read performance than write performance.

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Unpatched performance results in a net score of over 2K better than when patched.

Scoring

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The 905P delivers better overall performance than the 900P as evidenced by these results. Patched performance is significantly lower than unpatched, but its still far better than any of the non-Optane SSDs that comprise our test pool. Keep in mind that only the 905P is running on a patched system.

(Anvil) Read IOPS through Queue Depth Scale

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Unpatched; we are very close to matching factory max random read IOPS. With an OS and 75% full we can't quite get there at QD32.

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As this chart clearly demonstrates, Optane SSDs are in a class of their own when reading random data. We are seeing 5x the performance of our flash-based contenders at QD1. This is where performance matters most, and this is where Optane delivers like no other. Here again, we see the 905P outperforming the 900P.

(Anvil) Write IOPS through Queue Scale

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With a partition on the drive, random write IOPS at QD32 fall short of factory specs. We are seeing a more than 75K IOPS advantage for unpatched vs. patched. That may not sound like a lot with so many IOPS in play, but 75K is about a SATA SSD's worth of performance difference which is substantial.

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This is a tough one to call. The SanDisk Extreme Pro delivers the best low queue depth performance, the 970 EVO the best at queue depths above 4. Because we value low queue performance more than anything else, we give the win to the Extreme Pro. Keep in mind that while random write performance is important, it is not anywhere near as important as random read.

Synthetic Benchmarks - CrystalDiskMark & AS SSD

CrystalDiskMark

Version and / or Patch Used: 3.0 Technical Preview

CrystalDiskMark is disk benchmark software that allows us to benchmark 4k and 4k queue depths with accuracy. Note: Crystal Disk Mark 3.0 Technical Preview was used for these tests since it offers the ability to measure native command queuing at QD4. When evaluating CDM results, we focus on 4K random performance at QD1 and QD4.

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The impact of patching for spectre/meltdown affects CDM performance more than any other benchmark we run. In-fact patching has an up to 50% negative impact on random performance. Focusing in on QD1 and QD4 we see the 905P destroying our flash-based contenders whether patched or unpatched. Again, we see that the 905P delivers slightly better random performance than the 900P. And again, we will remind you that only the 905P is patched.

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SanDisk's Extreme Pro is a write performance juggernaut. It easily wins this test.

AS SSD

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.8.5611.39791

AS SSD determines the performance of SSDs. The tool contains four synthetic as well as three practice tests. The synthetic tests are to determine the sequential and random read and write performance of the SSD. We evaluate AS SSD performance in terms of overall score. We are looking for a minimum score of 2,000 when evaluating NVMe SSDs

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The 900P wins this test, just edging out the 905P when running patched. Strangely enough, AS SSD scoring seems to be relatively unaffected by spectre/meltdown patches as evidenced by a slightly higher score than when unpatched. In fact, we've noticed this anomaly with other SSDs as well.

Benchmarks (OS) - Vantage, PCMark 7, PCMark 8 & More

Moderate Workload Model

We categorize these tests as indicative of a moderate workload environment.

PCMark Vantage - Hard Disk Tests

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.2.0.0

The reason we like PCMark Vantage is because the recorded traces are played back without system stops. What we see is the raw performance of the drive. This allows us to see a marked difference between scoring that other trace-based benchmarks do not exhibit. An example of a marked difference in scoring on the same drive would be empty vs. filled vs. steady state.

We run Vantage three ways. The first run is with the OS drive 75% full to simulate a lightly used OS volume filled with data to an amount we feel is common for most users. The second run is with the OS volume written into a "Steady State" utilizing SNIA's consumer guidelines. Steady-state testing simulates a drive's performance similar to that of a drive that been subjected to consumer workloads for extensive amounts of time. The third run is a Vantage HDD test with the test drive attached as an empty, lightly used secondary device.

OS Volume 75% Full - Lightly Used

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OS Volume 75% Full - Steady State

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Secondary Volume Empty - FOB

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Typically, there is a big difference between an empty drive, one that's 75% full/used, and one that's in a steady state. Not so with Optane.

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The important scores to pay attention to are "OS Volume Steady State" and "OS Volume 75% full." These two categories are most important because they are indicative of typical of consumer user states. When a drive is in a steady state, it means garbage collection is running at the same time it's reading/writing.

Scoring is similar whether the drive is empty, full or immediately after running a heavy workload. Contrast that with the flash-based SSDs in our test pool. Steady-state only applies to flash-based SSDs, not Optane. The Optane drive's score at minimum double that of the 960 Pro at 75% full and steady-state.

Look at the SanDisk Extreme Pro. This is a perfect example of 3D XPoint's superiority over NAND. The Extreme Pro actually scores higher than the 900P when empty but when we add data into the mix, the Optane 905P outscores the Extreme Pro by a minimum of 3x.

The 905P again shows itself to be more powerful than the 900P where it matters. Patching significantly affects scoring in a negative manor.

PCMark 7 - System Storage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.4.0

We will look to Raw System Storage scoring for evaluation because it's done without system stops and, therefore, allows us to see significant scoring differences between drives. When evaluating NVMe SSDs we are looking for a minimum score of 11,000

OS Volume 75% Full - Lightly Used

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The 905P continues to display slightly better performance than the 900P. Patching for exploits results in a 10 percent lower score. Even patched, the 905P delivers more than double the score of the best flash-based contenders even if they have far better sequential performance. This is testament to the fact that sequential performance is almost irrelevant in relation to system performance.

PCMark 8 - Storage Bandwidth

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.7

We use PCMark 8 Storage benchmark to test the performance of SSDs with traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office, and a selection of popular games. You can test the system drive or any other recognized storage device, including local external drives. Unlike synthetic storage tests, the PCMark 8 Storage benchmark highlights real-world performance differences between storage devices.

OS Volume 75% Full - Lightly Used

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PCMark 8 is the most intensive moderate workload simulation we run. With respect to moderate consumer type workloads, this test is what we consider the best indicator of a drive's performance. Patching delivers a big drop in bandwidth, but scoring which is more important isn't affected all that much.

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When comparing storage scores, it is important to keep in mind that a few points are a big deal. The 905P just edges out the 900P for the top spot once again.

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Storage bandwidth really highlights what the Optane Series 9 SSDs can do in a more discernable way than scoring does. Optane destroys the flash-based the competition. The 905P delivers the highest storage bandwidth of any SSD we've tested to date.

BAPCo SYSmark 2014 SE Application Performance

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.0.0.70

SYSmark 2014 SE is considered the gold standard for testing system performance because it is an application based benchmark. This test gives us the ultimate in real-world results because it utilizes actual applications running on the system, instead of playing back recorded traces. If you want to know what kind of impact a particular SSD will have on your system's overall performance; this test will show you.

Our systems are much more powerful than the calibration system (1000-point baseline) used by BAPCo, so we ran an OCZ TL100 120GB SATA III SSD to establish a comparison point relative to our test systems. We will be running this test going forward and we will add drives to our chart as we test them.

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This lineup is a bit different than the others we've used for our test pool to this point. This is because these are the only NVMe SSDs we've tested on this platform. It is important to keep in mind that with SYSmark 2014 SE a few points are a big deal when comparing one drive to another on the same platform. We focus on the responsiveness score most when evaluating SYSmark results.

The 900P remains our lab champion on our Z270 test platform. The 905P is right there though, only one point behind the 900P in responsiveness scoring.

As we informed you at the beginning of this review, we tested the 905P patched on our Z370 system and that all other benchmarks besides SYSmark are for all practical purposes identical to those run on our Z270 platform. This means that all other benchmarks give us an accurate representation of the impact patching for spectre/meltdown has on results even though we used slightly different platforms.

To compare patched vs. unpatched accurately when running SYSmark, we must compare results run on the same platform. Here are patched results on the same platform for the 905P vs. Samsung's 960 Pro 2TB.

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A few points are a big deal when evaluating SYSmark results and the 905P is smashing the 960 Pro by 51 points on the responsiveness test. This might not seem like that much, but it is huge. It's enough to be very much noticed in terms of user experience.

Benchmarks (Secondary) - IOPS, Response & Transfer Rate

Iometer - Maximum IOPS

Version and / or Patch Used: Iometer 2014

We use Iometer to measure high queue depth performance. (No Partition)

Max IOPS Read

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Max IOPS Write

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We test NVMe SSDs using eight threads at QD32 (QD256). We do this because we want to see what the drive can generate at its maximum attainable queue depth.

Iometer - Disk Response

Version and / or Patch Used: Iometer 2014

We use Iometer to measure disk response times. Disk response times are measured at an industry accepted standard of 4K QD1 for both write and read. Each test runs twice for 30 seconds consecutively, with a 5-second ramp-up before each test. We partition the drive/array as a secondary device for this testing.

Avg. Write Response

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Avg. Read Response

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And there you have it. A perfect illustration of why the 905P is the world's most responsive SSD. It is a bit more responsive than the 900P, and roughly 5x more responsive than Samsung's 960 Pro when reading random 4K data at QD1. This is where flash SSDs are at their worst, and where Optane is at its best.

DiskBench - Transfer Rate

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.6.2.0

We use DiskBench to time a 28.6GB block (9,882 files in 1,247 folders) composed primarily of incompressible sequential and random data as it's transferred from our Toshiba RD400 1TB NVME SSD to our test drive. We then read from a 6GB zip file that's part of our 28.6GB data block to determine the test drive's read transfer rate. Our system is restarted prior to the read test to clear any cached data, ensuring an accurate test result.

Write Transfer Rate

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Read Transfer Rate

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This lineup, like our SYSmark lineup, is a bit different than the rest of our charts. We included the NVMe SSDs we've tested to date using newer builds of Windows 10. We tested both read and write transfer rates on our patched system and read only on our unpatched system. We didn't want to go through the trouble of multiple clones to obtain write transfer rates on our unpatched system.

Even when patched, the 905P delivers the best write transfer rate of any SSD we've tested to date. It is significantly better than the 900P. Our read block is composed of mostly sequential data and therefore most of the flash-based contenders deliver a better-read transfer rate than the 905P.

Benchmarks (Secondary Volume) - PCMark 8 Extended

Futuremark PCMark 8 Extended

Heavy Workload Model

PCMark 8's consistency test simulates an extended duration heavy workload environment. PCMark 8 has built-in, command line executed storage testing. The PCMark 8 Consistency test measures the performance consistency and the degradation tendency of a storage system.

The Storage test workloads are repeated. Between each repetition, the storage system is bombarded with a usage that causes degraded drive performance. In the first part of the test, the cycle continues until a steady degraded level of performance has been reached. (Steady State)

In the second part, the recovery of the system is tested by allowing the system to idle and measuring the performance after 5-minute long intervals. (Internal drive maintenance: Garbage Collection (GC)) The test reports the performance level at the start, the degraded steady-state, and the recovered state, as well as the number of iterations required to reach the degraded state and the recovered state.

We feel Futuremark's Consistency Test is the best test ever devised to show the true performance of solid state storage in an extended duration heavy workload environment. This test takes on average 13 to 17 hours to complete and writes somewhere between 450GB and 14,000GB of test data depending on the drive. If you want to know what an SSDs steady-state performance is going to look like during a heavy workload, this test will show you.

Here's a breakdown of Futuremark's Consistency Test:

Precondition phase:

1. Write to the drive sequentially through up to the reported capacity with random data.

2. Write the drive through a second time (to take care of over-provisioning).

Degradation phase:

1. Run writes of random size between 8*512 and 2048*512 bytes on random offsets for 10 minutes.

2. Run performance test (one pass only).

3. Repeat 1 and 2 for 8 times, and on each pass increase the duration of random writes by 5 minutes.

Steady state phase:

1. Run writes of random size between 8*512 and 2048*512 bytes on random offsets for 50 minutes.

2. Run performance test (one pass only).

3. Repeat 1 and 2 for 5 times.

Recovery phase:

1. Idle for 5 minutes.

2. Run performance test (one pass only).

3. Repeat 1 and 2 for 5 times.

Storage Bandwidth

PCMark 8's Consistency test provides a ton of data output that we use to judge a drive's performance.

Intel Optane SSD 905P 960GB AIC NVMe PCIe SSD Review 63 | TweakTown.com

We consider steady-state bandwidth (the blue bar) our test that carries the most weight in ranking a drive/arrays heavy workload performance. Performance after Garbage Collection (GC) (the orange and red bars) is what we consider the second most important consideration when ranking a drive's performance.

Unlike NAND, 3D XPoint is unaffected by degrade, steady-state or recovery. It's all the same for Optane. Absolute domination over flash. Running patched, the 905P takes about a 110MB/s hit in storage bandwidth. Patching doesn't have nearly the impact on moderate workloads as it does on synthetic benchmarks. Here again, the 905P sets another lab record by outperforming the 900P.

Storage Bandwidth Per Phase

We chart our test subject's storage bandwidth as reported at each of the test's 18 trace iterations. This gives us a good visual perspective of how our test subjects perform as testing progresses. This chart sheds more light on how the drives perform as they progress through the testing phases.

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Optane relegates flash to the bottom of our chart. This gives us a perfect illustration of the many facets of Optane's superior media working together to deliver sustained workload performance that is an order of magnitude better than is possible with NAND.

Total Access Time (Latency)

We chart the total time the disk is accessed as reported at each of the test's 18 trace iterations. This helps shed some light on how the drive performs at each of the 18 phases of this test.

Intel Optane SSD 905P 960GB AIC NVMe PCIe SSD Review 65 | TweakTown.com

During the degrade and steady phases of our testing, Optane is delivering over 10X lower latency than some of our flash-based contenders.

Disk Busy Time

Disk Busy Time is how long the disk is busy working. We chart the total time the disk is working as reported at each of the tests 18 trace iterations.

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Optane 9 Series SSDs are only working for a total of six seconds per phase. Our flash-based contenders are working for as much as 37 seconds, or up to 6x more per phase.

Data Written

We measure the total amount of random data that our test drive/array is capable of writing during the degradation phases of the consistency test. Pre-conditioning data is not included in the total. The total combined time that degradation data is written to the drive/array is 470 minutes. This can be very telling. The better a drive/array can process a continuous stream of random data; the more data will be written.

Intel Optane SSD 905P 960GB AIC NVMe PCIe SSD Review 67 | TweakTown.com

Optane digests a continuous stream of random data far better than any flash-based SSD. Whether patched or unpatched, the 905P is able to write more data than its predecessor. Almost 34 terabytes of random data written in 470 minutes is stunning to say the least.

Benchmarks 70/30 Mixed Workload & Sustained Seq. Write

70/30 Mixed Workload Test (Sledgehammer)

Version and / or Patch Used: Iometer 2014

Heavy Workload Model

This test hammers a drive so hard we've dubbed it "Sledgehammer". Our 70/30 Mixed Workload test is designed to simulate a heavy-duty enthusiast/workstation steady-state environment. We feel that a mix of 70% read/30% write, full random 4K transfers best represents this type of user environment. Our test allows us to see the drive enter into and reach a steady state as the test progresses.

Phase one of the test preconditions the drive for 1 hour with 128K sequential writes at QD32. Phase two of the test runs a 70% read/30% write at QD32, full random 4K transfer workload on the drive for 1 hour. We log and chart (phase two) IOPS data at 5-second intervals for 1 hour (720 data points). 60 data points = 5 minutes.

Intel Optane SSD 905P 960GB AIC NVMe PCIe SSD Review 68 | TweakTown.com

What we like about this test is that it reflects reality. Everything lines up, as it should. Consumer drives don't outperform Enterprise-Class SSDs that were designed for enterprise workloads. Consumer drives based on old technology are not outperforming modern Performance-Class SSDs, etc.

More than any other test we've run, this test best illustrates the advantage 3D XPoint memory has over NAND. Unlike NAND, 3D XPoint is unaffected by the state of the drive during a workload. Here we see that patching for spectre/meltdown has a huge impact when running sustained workloads of this nature.

We will point out that none of the competing SSDs in our test pool were tested with the patches; if they were, we would expect so see a similar decline in performance. Again, when all things are equal, the 905P delivers better performance than the 900P.

Sustained Sequential Write

Version and / or Patch Used: Iometer 2014

Heavy Workload Model

We write to the drive for 1 hour with 128K sequential writes at QD32. We log and chart megabytes per second data at 5-second intervals for 1 hour (720 data points). 60 data points = 5 minutes.

Intel Optane SSD 905P 960GB AIC NVMe PCIe SSD Review 69 | TweakTown.com

As this test demonstrates, patching has no effect on an SSDs sequential performance. The 905P outperforms the 900P and does so with much less variability in its data pattern. Another lab record for the 905P.

Maxed-Out Performance (MOP)

Maxed-Out Performance

This testing is just to see what the drive is capable of in an FOB (Fresh Out of Box) state under optimal conditions. We are utilizing empty volumes of Windows 10, Windows Server 2012/2008 R2 64-bit for this testing.

Windows 10 MOP

Intel Optane SSD 905P 960GB Z370 Patched

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Windows Server 2008 R2 MOP

Intel Optane SSD 905P Z370

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Windows 10 MOP

Intel Optane SSD 905P 960GB Z270

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Windows Server 2008 R2 MOP

Intel Optane SSD 905P 960GB Z270

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Windows 10 MOP

Intel Optane SSD 905P 960GB X299

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Final Thoughts

Performance, where it matters, is what Optane is all about. Flash-based SSDs are simply incapable of delivering performance anywhere near what Optane delivers where it matters most. As we explained, random read at QD1-2 is the most important performance metric in relation to total system performance. The operating region in the consumer space is, for the most part, all random, occurs at QD1-4 and 70-80 percent is read.

Intel Optane SSD 905P 960GB AIC NVMe PCIe SSD Review 201 | TweakTown.com

As our testing revealed, Optane delivers 5-7x better random read performance at QD1 than flash-based NVMe SSDs. This is exactly where performance matters most, and exactly where flash-based SSDs are at their worst. We have all seen posts where enthusiasts say that they cannot visibly differentiate the user experience delivered by a SATA SSD vs. an NVMe SSD. They are correct, and the reason why this is true goes right back to where performance matters most - 4K QD1 random read performance.

Whether it be SATA or NVMe, all flash-based SSDs, for the most part, deliver about the same random read performance at QD1. This is why all flash-based SSDs equipped with similar flash deliver about the same user experience in most use-case scenarios. If you have been paying attention over the years you have noticed that the best flash-based SSDs are only capable of 40-60 MB/s of random read performance at QD1. Contrast that with Optane delivering between 200-375 MB/s of random read performance at QD1.

Optane technology virtually eliminates the shortcomings associated with flash-based SSDs. Flash-based SSDs cannot sustain peak performance when running sustained workloads. Optane can. Flash-based SSDs get slower as the drive fills up with data. Optane does not. Flash-based SSDs need background drive maintenance and TRIM to maintain performance. Optane does not. The more flash-based SSDs are used, the more bit errors occur - triggering more intense ECC operations which in turn reduce performance. Not so with Optane. 3D XPoint memory media is so fast it doesn't use or need DRAM; which means Optane doesn't have to reload address tables and wear-leveling info into a DRAM cache each time your system boots.

Optane SSDs are more reliable and far more enduring than flash-based SSDs as evidenced by Optane's 10-20x better endurance rating. Just as SSDs are an order of magnitude more reliable than mechanical HDDs, Optane SSDs are an order of magnitude more reliable than their flash-based counterparts. The main reason Optane SSDs are much more reliable than flash-based SSDs is due to the superiority of the memory media itself.

Intel Optane SSD 905P 960GB AIC NVMe PCIe SSD Review 202 | TweakTown.com

To sum it all up, Optane SSDs are superior to flash-based SSDs in almost every way with two exceptions. Price per gigabyte of storage and density are where flash-based SSDs have an advantage over Optane. As it stands right now, flash can be packaged at up to 1TB per package. Currently, 3D XPoint tops out at 64GB per package. This is why M.2 Optane SSDs max out at 118GB, and M.2 flash-based SSDs max out at 2TB. These two exceptions matter to some users, but certainly not to dedicated enthusiasts. We want the best, and when only the best will do - Intel's Optane SSD 905P is the only game in town.

Intel's Optane SSD 905P is 100% TweakTown recommended.

Pros:

  • Best Performance
  • Best Endurance
  • Premium Components
  • Sleek Design

Cons:

  • Availability
TweakTown award
Performance100%
Quality100%
Features100%
Value98%
Overall100%

The Bottom Line: When only the best will do, there is only one choice - Intel's Optane SSD 905P 960GB.

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Jon became a computer enthusiast when Windows XP launched. He was into water cooling and benching ATI video cards with modded drivers. Jon has been building computers for others for more than 10 years. Jon became a storage enthusiast the day he first booted an Intel X25-M G1 80GB SSD. Look for Jon to bring consumer SSD reviews into the spotlight.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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