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Intel ups Optane’s ante once again
Déjà vu all over again? Yup, it’s another Optane drive from Intel. It’s an intriguing contradiction that Optane has us at one and the same time wondering how on earth the company can put out yet another spin on its Optane product line so soon, and also considering whether, with this particular drive, Optane is finally going to absolutely, unambiguously deliver on its immense hypothetical promise.
Enter the Intel Optane 905p. As the name suggests, it’s a refresh of the 900p premium consumer product. That makes it either a second or third-generation 3D Xpoint technology implementation, depending on how you look at it. Whatever, as the tech matures, expectations harden. A little leeway is inevitable for a radical new technology, but Optane has been around long enough that we’d like to be able to say it’s just darned fast, as opposed to pointing your attention at the low latency and hope you don’t notice the patchy bandwidth. The problem, of course, is that the underlying 3D Xpoint chips remain first generation.
But never mind, what’s new with the 905p? It’s been around for a few months in 480GB and 960GB variants, but this huge 1.5TB version is very much the latest thing. Broadly, it’s a refinement of the existing 900p series, rather than a radical departure. There’s a moderately revised sevenchannel controller and firmware, still of Intel’s own making, and the speeds and feeds are slightly up on the 900p. So, reads are now claimed to peak at 2.6GB/s, with writes at 2.2GB/s. Similarly, the IOPS ratings have crept up to 575K and 500K respectively for reads and writes.
The very latest flash drives can match or beat all those numbers, of course, and sometimes by a large margin. Samsung’s 970 Pro is good for up to 3.5TB/s of sequential reads. Anyway, by the numbers, the new 1.5TB 905p performs pretty much in line with expectations when it comes to sequential throughput, which means it’s fast, but not electrifying.
Of more interest are the 4K numbers. Here the 905p puts in an extremely strong 4K read performance of 123MB/s. That’s roughly twice as fast as the Samsung 970 Pro. On the other hand, the Samsung is about 70 percent faster for 4K writes. In our real-world internal file copy test, it’s neck and neck, with both doing it in 29 seconds, which works out at slightly over 1GB/s of throughput. Impressively, the 905p will keep that rate up seeming indefinitely. We filled the drive up prior to testing, and it maintained that performance for all 1.5TB.
You could argue that simple sequential tests don’t give much insight into real-world performance. In that scenario, the 905p’s neatly symmetrical 4K performance and internal file copy endurance show its true real-world strengths. Random read performance is particularly important to the end user experience, and it’s where the 905p is strongest. So, the numbers still aren’t all there, but, subjectively, there probably isn’t a drive that will make your PC feel faster than the 905p.
SSD US$3,240 WWW.INTEL.COM |