Intel Optane SSD 900P Review: 3D XPoint Unleashed Price $389.99

The time is finally here. You've looked at 3D Xpoint for companies in our Intel DC P4800X review, and you've seen it as a quick cache for desktops in our Optane Memory Review. But this is the form that you're really waiting for: 3D bootable Xpoint SSD for desktop. Intel Optane 900p. It is said that the fastest known SSD consumer human. This has come, and it is time for us to review the promises that will be a major shift in consumer storage.

Intel Optane SSD 900P lightning fast thanks to new XPoint 3D memory, but the price is also expensive because the latest technology is in great demand. Intel and Micron developed 3D XPoint memory for over a decade in a secret project that created the first new product memory since 1966. The company still will not tell us all the details behind the technology, but the outside company has confirmed it is a form Phase Change Memory (PCM).

This fast new memory is designed to fill performance gaps between DRAM and storage, thereby traversing both areas. XPoint 3D is more expensive than NAND, but it is also faster and provides more endurance. XPoint 3D is slower than DRAM, but it's also cheaper and denser. The best part? Unlike DRAM, it stores data when you release power, so it is a suitable NAND replacement.

Intel Optane SSD 900P Review: 3D XPoint Unleashed Price $389.99

Going into this review, we already know that Optane SSD 900P will appear as the fastest SSD consumer ever. Intel downgraded the desktop version of the company-focused DC P4800X, the fastest SSD we've tested. The real question is how much Intel will make its consumer version lower to reduce costs and make data center administrators not adopt their desktop models as their own.

Intel did find a way to prevent corporate customers from scooping all these drives: the Optane SSD 900P desktop comes with a third of the data center model's endurance and loses some enterprise features, such as SMBus. However, the Optane SSD 900P desktop fits or exceeds the DC P4800X performance specifications, thus promising explosive performance.

Specifications Intel Optane SSD 900P AIC (280GB)

  • Capacity (Raw / User)
  • 280GB
  • Form Factor
  • Interface / Protocol
  • PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe
  • Controller
  • Intel EAU01D76 SLL3D
  • DRAM
  • None
  • NAND
  • Intel 3D XPoint
  • Sequential Read
  • 2,500 MB/s
  • Sequential Write
  • 2,000 MB/s
  • Random Read
  • 550,000 IOPS
  • Random Write
  • 500,000 IOPS
  • Encryption
  • Endurance
  • 10 DWPD
Intel brings the Optane SSD to the market with a capacity of 280GB and 480GB. Drive comes in two predictable form factors: PCIe Add-In Card and 2.5 "U.2 drive with SFF-8639 connector Intel will only have four models ready during initial launch, U2 480GB will come later In this year there are two model number for U.2 drives, but we only have specific numbers for 280GB drives.One will be shipped with standard U.2 cable and other vessels with M.2 to U. 2 adapter

Capacity 900P data center 375GB DC P4800X. Intel shares a roadmap with us that lists the company model with higher capacity coming later this year, and even larger drives by 2018. We are looking forward to the growing desktop version in time as well, but Intel has not mentioned a definitive plan to drive the future front.

The Optane 900P provides up to 2,500 MB / s of sequential read throughput, which is 100 MB / s higher than on the DC P4800X company. The needle needle is sequentially at 2,000 MB / s, but you have to work to achieve it. The Optane SSD 900P completely separates itself from the NAND SSD package when we compare random performance. Desktop drives reach 550,000 / 500,000 read / write IOPS, which goes far beyond any desktop SSD.

How 3D XPoint Works

Now you're used to random high-performance specs with NVMe SSD, but different Optane products. As we pointed out in our Optane Memory review, this new memory is able to achieve very high performance at low queue depth. We can even be fully saturated with some workload before reaching the 8th queue depth.

XPoint 3D is bit-addressable, so unlike NAND-based SSDs that write in larger chunks, the Optane 900P can break 4K data into smaller chunks and pass it to multiple dies, which improves performance. Each 3D XPoint die also has 64 separate areas that can respond to commands simultaneously, while a regular NAND has a maximum of four. It should provide an explosive performance advantage for desktop PCs.

Unlike NAND, 3D XPoint is a write-in-place memory. That means the SSD controller does not have to delete existing data before writing new data. Eliminating the extra writing cycle improves endurance and performance while eliminating the usual garbage collection process. That makes the 900P immune to normal small SSD concerns, such as steady-state performance.

Optane Advantages Over SSD

The Optane SSD 900P will speed up the storage-bound workload. Unlike Memory Optane, this is not a caching device, although you can be very creative with tiering storage using 3rd party software. That's the way we want to explore in the future.

Intel released a list of workloads where the Optane 900P excels compared to NAND-based SSDs:

  • High Random Read And Write Performance
  • High Performance At Low Queue Depths
  • High Simultaneous Read And Write Performance
  • High Read And Write Performance At Small Capacity Points
  • High Performance Maintained As The Drive Fills
  • Heavy Workloads That Cause Drive Wear And Require High Endurance
That includes most types of data access. We do not recognize anyone who specifically targets high-performance high-capacity drives. Most users shop based on price, but the Optane SSD is the only product beyond the light that is available so that normal shopper behavior may not apply.

Intel Optane 900P is a new tier that goes beyond fast, so the existing SSD has just moved down the notch. For example, Intel SSD 750 and Samsung 960 Pro are no longer the fastest; now they are "less than Optane."

Price, Warranty & Durability

Intel Optane SSD 900P will be marketed for $ 389 (280GB) and $ 599 (480GB). That's expensive 900P roughly triple the NAND SSD cost per GB.

We had some concerns, though. The DC P4800X 375GB company currently sells for $ 1,900 at Newegg. We've never seen one in MSRP $ 1,520. Limited availability is also troubling. Intel has been sending DC P4800X to its data center customers for several months, but finding the drive through channels is quite scarce. After Flash Memory Summit, we tried to find P4800X in MSRP but lost it with empty hand. Many retailers we contact quote a two to three month wait time. It certainly raises concerns with the availability of Optane SSD 900P. One retailer with a list of 900P shows availability on October 30th. In our briefing, Intel stated that the drive will be available on launch day (26/10/2017).

900P comes with a limited five year warranty limited by endurance value. The endurance level supports 10 write drives per day for both capacities. It managed to produce 8,760 terabytes of warranty for the 480GB model. By comparison, the Samsung 960 Pro 2TB offers 1,200 terabytes of warranty writing, so the 900P easily offers enough endurance for desktop users. Fortunately 900P high endurance - drives so fast that we managed to write 85TB in little more than a day. Intel states that the drive will move into read-only state after its expiration period.

Software detail check drive tools

Intel Optane SSD 900P Review: 3D XPoint Unleashed Price $389.99

We expect Intel to update the company's SSD Toolbox software, but at time of writing, does not fully support 900P. The Intel SSD Toolbox software helps you optimize some operating system settings, update firmware, and remove secure drives.

Packaging & Accessories

Intel Optane SSD 900P Review: 3D XPoint Unleashed Price $389.99

Intel Optane SSD 900P Review: 3D XPoint Unleashed Price $389.99

Optane SSD 900P is the company's first 9-series consumer product. Intel selects the appropriate drive for the top shelf designation.

Coinciding with the launch, Intel will showcase the boost for the first time at CitizenCon, a meeting of Roberts Space Industries' Star Star community. As part of the partnership, Optane SSD 900P will ship with the download code for the exclusive Saber Raven ship that has unique in-game capabilities. As you might expect, the Saber Raven specialization has to do with the top speed.

The drive carries with an additional bracket for the original half-height, half-length use on a smaller chassis.

Overcoming PCIe 4.0 Rumor And LED / RGB

Intel has not yet explained why some online retailers are listing product pages for additional models. The official explanation is that there are several different part numbers for the Citizen Star bundle and the standard model will come later. Earlier this year, leaked slides appeared with the correct 900P specification. The single screenshot has 900P images with LED lighting or RGB effects. Intel did not announce the product today, and the company does not discuss unreleased products.

On the reseller side, we found several references for PCI Express 4.0 and corresponding part numbers. The list comes just days after PCI-SIG announces the final specification for PCIe 4.0. We think this may be an error on the reseller part, probably related to PCIe 3.0 x4 900P interface. We should look at PCIe 4.0 platforms and components by 2018, but it does not make sense for Intel to release PCIe 4.0 products right now.

A Closer Look

Not much to see on the drive thanks to two metal covers that act as a heatsink and protect the sensitive surface mount components. The drive does look good, but one has to wonder what happened to the LED version depicted in leaks from Asia earlier in the year.

Intel Optane SSD 900P Review: 3D XPoint Unleashed Price $389.99


We found a custom seven-channel NVMe ASIC controller under the heatsink. It can handle up to four dead per channel (28 total). 900P 280GB is equipped with 21 16GB packages spread on both sides of the PCB. It gives us the raw capacity of XPoint XP memory of 336 GB.

NAND-based SSDs have a backup area, which is part of the capacity that can not be handled by the user. Some backup areas are dedicated to ECC overhead and RAID-level device implementations that improve reliability. The remainder of the reserve area is usually dedicated to over-provisioning, which improves performance and durability.

Optane SSDs have backup, but do not use them in the traditional sense because many normal SSD rules do not apply. Instead, they use extra space for ECC and metadata at the device level, and unlike NAND, they do not include excess inventory at the dead level. We can also assume that some extra capacity is used to replace failed cells.

We do not recommend removing the heatsink. Doing so damages the thermal cushion because it is not neatly separated. Custom ASIC controllers and XPoint 3D packages do not give us much additional information, like Intel. The secrecy is still strong with this product, so we have limited technical information to share.

Intel Optane SSD 900P Review: 3D XPoint Unleashed Price $389.99

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