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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.
By: Jon Coulter | SSDs in Storage | Posted: May 9, 2018 3:00 pm
TweakTown Rating: 100%Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction

 

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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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.

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