Intel’s 910-series of PCI Express SSDs imminent

intel 910 ssd Intels 910 series of PCI Express SSDs imminent

By now it's pretty clear that the SATA and SAS interfaces just aren't cutting it for high-performance SSDs and as we know from Intel's SSD roadmap, PCI Express is the future interface for its high-end SSDs. The company is about to announce its new 910-series of PCI Express based SSD's, previously known as Ramsdale MLC and VR-Zone is bringing you the details ahead of the launch.

By now it's pretty clear that the SATA and SAS interfaces just aren't cutting it for high-performance SSDs and as we know from Intel's SSD roadmap, PCI Express is the future interface for its high-end SSDs. The company is about to announce its new 910-series of PCI Express based SSD's, previously known as Ramsdale MLC and VR-Zone is bringing you the details ahead of the launch.

If we gaze back at the roadmap, Intel skipped its original PCI Express SSD – also codenamed Ramsdale – which was meant to use SLC NAND and was supposedly meant to be the 720-series. The original Ramsdale SSD was meant to arrive sometime in Q4 of last year and it was said to deliver some 180,000 4K read IOPS and 56,000 4K write IOPS. For whatever reason this product never launched and in its place it looks like we'll have to make do with the 910-series.

The general downside of MLC over SLC NAND flash is the longevity of MLC isn't as good as that for SLC, but the 910-series is using Intel's HET or High Endurance Technology MLC memory which is also used in the 710-series. The write endurance using 25nm HET MLC is close to that of 50nm SLC, so in most circumstances HET MLC should be preferable due to lower cost. Intel is of course taking over provisioning into account here as well and the new 910-series should have any issues when it comes to longevity.

intel 910 ssd Intels 910 series of PCI Express SSDs imminent

 

The 910-series will be available in two capacities, 400GB and 800GB, which straight away puts it in a different market segment than any of Intel's previous SSD products. The drive comprised of multiple PCB modules which consists of an unspecified SAS to NAND ASCI and 200GB of NAND flash per module. There's also a main PCB onto which the modules are attached which holds a PCI Express to SAS bridge as well as the components for power etc. The NAND flash is connected via an ONFI 2.0 interface, but we do don't know exactly how much bandwidth is available from each of the NAND flash packages.

The sequential read performance is rated at up to 1GB/s for the 400GB SKU and a massive 2GB/s for the 800GB SKU. The write performance is a fair bit slower, but hardly slow at up to 750MB/s for the 400GB SKU and 1GB/s for the 800GB SKU. As far as IOPS are concerned, we're looking at a read performance of up to 90,000 and 180,000 IOPS respectively for the 400GB and 800GB model and a write performance of up to 38,000 and 75,000 IOPS.

As for endurance, Intel is rating the two models at 7 and 14 Petabyte which should be compared to 1.5 Petabyte for the 710-series using overprovisioning, so in other words, these are work horse SSD's that can handle a lot of data. The card itself measures 69x168x19mm (HxWxD) which is a half-height PCI Express card and Intel has standardised on a PCI Express 2.0 x8 interface for both models. Intel is claiming a 25W typical active power draw, with idle power draw being 8 and 12W respectively for the 400GB and 800GB SKUs.

We don't have an exact launch time at the moment, but we're expecting the 910-series to be announced at IDF Beijing which kicked off today. As for availability and pricing, we'd expect the 910-series to be arriving shortly, but at a price point that puts it squarely in the high-performance computing and server market space.

VR-Zone is a leading online technology news publication reporting on bleeding edge trends in PC and mobile gadgets, with in-depth reviews and commentaries.