Intel Optane SSD 800p
Intel’s revolutionary 3D XPoint memory tech hits the mainstream. Jeremy Laird tries to look impressed.
Is this the affordable SSD from Intel we’ve all been waiting for? Probably not because of its M.2 interface, but it’s certainly affordable and has I/O off the charts!
We have our hands on Intel’s first mainstream SSD for PCs based on its 3D XPoint tech (see
LXF232), the Intel Optane SSD 800p. But what’s this? Sequential reads of 1,450MB/s? Writes of just 640MB/s? AIOPs at just 250K read and 140K for writes? All of this is falling well short of the pre-release marketing hype. What’s going on? It’s complicated…
We found the 800p to be unremarkable by conventional SSD standards, and a major letdown given the hype that accompanied 3D XPoint. Sequential throughput is pretty much in line with Intel’s claims, and thus miles off the fastest NAND-based SSDs.
Granted, Intel has gone with a dual-lane PCI Express interface for the 800p, which limits peak transfer performance compared to high-end NAND drives with quad-lane interfaces, but that’s clearly not what’s holding back the 800p’s sequential write performance, which clocks in at a maximum of 650MB/s in benchmarks. That’s barely any faster than a SATA SSD.
The promise of better things
However, 4K random access metrics hint at the 800p’s greater potential. The 800p registers 229MB/s for reads and 176MB/s for writes. Those figures are substantially faster than the current gold standard among NAND SSDs, the Samsung 960 Pro, can muster. Broadly speaking, then, the focus for this drive is on low latency and low queue-depth performance, rather than straightforward peak throughput.
More specifically, Intel says that the 800p is four to five times faster to respond at short queue depths of one and two compared to a NAND-based SSD. Intel reckons it’s these shorter queue depths that most determine the performance of typical client PC workloads. Intel also says performance is maintained regardless of how full the drive is, and rates the 800p for 365TB of writes, which is incredibly high.
All told, the new 800p is a bit of a mixed bag. The limited capacity means that even the larger of the two available drives is marginal as a boot drive. It’s also disappointing to see a drive based on such a supposedly revolutionary memory technology deliver such mediocre performance. The consequence is that the upsides of this new technology will have to be qualified, for now. This is, very likely, the most responsive mainstream SSD you can buy. It’s also quite possibly the most robust. But it’s not the fastest all around.
The extent to which this disappoints probably depends on how much you bought into the 3D XPoint hype. Realistically, it was never likely to completely deliver on the bombastic claims, and even less likely to do so from the get-go. Certainly, it isn’t as immediately revolutionary as we were hoping.
The 800p is the first mainstream Optane SSD big enough (just) to be used as a boot drive.