The Drives & Architecture

Architecturally, the S3500 looks a lot like the S3700. You get the same controller, similar firmware, AES-256 encryption and power loss protection. Where the two drives differ is in the type of NAND used. While the S3700 used 25nm HET-MLC (High Endurance Technology), the S3500 features high-grade 20nm MLC. As it's less focused on extremely write heavy applications, the S3500 also features less spare area than the S3700. You're still getting more than you would with a consumer drive, but far less than what we saw with its big brother. The result is lower endurance, lower sustained 4KB random write performance but a lower price as well.

Enterprise SSD Comparison
  Intel SSD DC S3700 Intel SSD DC S3500 Intel SSD 710 Intel X25-E Intel SSD 320
Capacities 100 / 200 / 400 / 800GB 80 / 120 / 160 / 240 / 300 / 400 / 480 / 600 / 800GB 100 / 200 / 300GB 32 / 64GB 80 / 120 / 160 / 300 / 600GB
NAND 25nm HET MLC 20nm MLC 25nm HET MLC 50nm SLC 25nm MLC
Max Sequential Performance (Reads/Writes) 500 / 460 MBps 500 / 450 MBps 270 / 210 MBps 250 / 170 MBps 270 / 220 MBps
Max Random Performance (Reads/Writes) 76K / 36K 75K / 11.5K 38.5K / 2.7K IOPS 35K / 3.3K IOPS 39.5K / 600 IOPS
Endurance (Max Data Written) 1.83 - 14.6PB 45 - 450TB 500TB - 1.5PB 1 - 2PB 5 - 60TB
Encryption AES-256 AES-256 AES-128 - AES-128
Power Safe Write Cache Y Y Y N Y
Intel SSD DC S3x00 Endurance (Total Drive Writes)
  80GB 100GB 120GB 160GB 200GB 240GB 300GB 400GB 480GB 600GB 800GB
S3700 - 1.825 PB - - 3.65 PB - - 7.3 PB - - 14.6 PB
S3500 45 TB - 70 TB 100 TB 140 TB - 170 TB 225 TB 275 TB 330 TB 450 TB

Intel provided two MSRPs for the S3500: $115 for an 80GB drive and $979 for an 800GB drive. With a range of $1.22 to $1.43 per GB, the S3500 is clearly more expensive than consumer drives but it hardly feels like it's priced as an enterprise solution.

Intel SSD Overprovisioning Comparison
  Advertised Capacity Total NAND on-board User Acessible Capacity MSRP
Intel SSD 710 200GB 320GB 186GB $800
Intel SSD DC S3700 200GB 264GB 186GB $470
Intel SSD DC S3500 240GB 264GB 223GB ~$320

Like the S3700, the S3500 is available in both 1.8" and 2.5" form factors. The 1.8" version is limited to 80GB, 240GB, 400GB and 800GB capacities, while the 2.5" version is available in all of the capacities. Also like its bigger brother, the S3500 supports both 5V and 12V operation. Power consumption is a bit lower than on the S3700, but idle power is still too high for notebook use at 600mW. Intel really needs a consumer optimized version of this controller for use in the client space.

Intel SSD DC S3x00 Power Consumption (5V, Max)
  80GB 100GB 120GB 160GB 200GB 240GB 300GB 400GB 480GB 600GB 800GB
S3700 - 3.1W - - 4.6W - - 7.7W - - 8.2W
S3500 2.0W - 2.4W 2.7W - 3.2W 3.9W - 5.2W 5.5W 7.3W

My S3500 sample showed up shortly before I left for Computex, which unfortunately left me without much time to go through and do a thorough job of evaluating the drive. Thankfully I had enough time to get some of the basics done, so what I'm presenting here is the first part of our look at the S3500. We're also continuing work on building some of our own flagship enterprise SSD benchmarks in Johan's mini datacenter, so I'm hoping to be able to run some of those workloads on the S3500 in the not too distant future.

Introduction Performance Consistency
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  • ShieTar - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    I think the metric is supposed to show that you need a dedicated drive per VM with mechanical HDDs, but that one of these SSDs can support and not slow down 12 VMs by itself. Having 12 VMs access the same physical HDD can drive access times into not-funny territory.
    The 20GB per VM can be enough if have a specific kernel and very little software. Think about a "dedicated" Web-Server. Granted, the comparison assumes a quiet specific usage scenario, but knowing Intel they probably did go out and retrieve that scenario from an actual commercial user. So it is a valid comparison for somebody, if maybe not the most convincing one to a broad audience.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    Read the conclusion page. That just refers to the fact that those 2 setups have the same random IO performance. Nothing more, nothing less. Reply
  • FunBunny2 - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    Well, there's that other vector to consider: if you're enamoured of sequential VSAM type applications, then you'd need all that HDD footprint. OTOH, if you're into 3NF RDBMS, you'd need substantially less. So, SSD reduces footprint and speeds up the access you do. Kind of a win-win. Reply
  • jimhsu - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    Firstly, the 500 SAS drives are almost certainly short-stroked (otherwise, how do you sustain 200 IOPS, even on 15K drives). That cuts capacity by 2x at least. Secondly, the large majority of web service/database/enterprise apps are IO-limited, not storage-limited, hence all that TB is basically worthless if you can't get data in and out fast enough. For certain applications though (I'm thinking image/video storage for one), obviously you'd use a HDD array. But their comparison metric is valid. Reply
  • rs2 - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    That doesn't mean it's not also confusing. The primary purpose of a "SW SAN Solution" is storage, not IOPS, so one SAN is not comparable to another SAN unless they both offer the same storage capacity.

    In the specific use-case of virtualization, IOPS are generally more important than storage space. But if IOPS are what they want to compare across solutions is IOPS performance then they shouldn't label either column a "SAN".

    So yes, on the one hand it's valid, but on the other it's definitely presented in a confusing way.
    Reply
  • thomas-hrb - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    It is a typical example of a vendor highlighting the statistics they want to you remember, and ignoring the ones that they hope are not important. That is the reason why technical people exist. Any fool can read and present excellent arguments for one side or the other. It is the understanding of these parameters, what they actually mean in a real world usage scenario that is the bread and butter of our industry. I don't know if this is typical for most modern SAN's. I am using a IBM v7000 (very popular SAN for IBM). But the v7000 comes with Auto Teiring which moves "hot blocks" from normal HDD Storage to SSD, thus having a solid performing random IO SSD that is consistent is essential to how this type of SAN works. Reply
  • Jaybus - Monday, June 17, 2013 - link

    Well, but but look at it another way. You can put 120 SSDs in 20U and have 200 GB per VM using half the rack space and a tenth the power but with FAR higher performance, and for less cost.

    Also, the ongoing cost of power and rack space is more important. In the same 42U space you can have a 252 SSD SAN (201,600 GB) and still use less than a fifth the power and have far, far greater performance.
    Reply
  • thomas-hrb - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    They are comparing IOP's. There are a few use cases where having large amounts of storage is the main target (databases, mailbos datastores etc), but typically application servers are less than 20GB in size. Even web-servers will typically be less than 10GB (nix based) in size. Ultimately any storage system will have a blend of both technologies and have a teir'd setup where they have Traditional HDD's to cover their capacity and somewhere between 5-7% of that capacity as high performance SSD's to cover for the small subset of data blocks that are "hot" and require significant'y more IOP's. This new SSD simply gives storage professionals an added level of flexibility in their designs. Reply
  • androticus - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    Why is "performance consistency" supposed to be so good... when the *lowest* performance number of the Seagate 600 is about the same as the *consistent* number for Intel? The *average* of the Seagate looks much higher? I could see this as an advantage if the competitor numbers also went way below Intel's consistent number, but not in this case. Reply
  • Lepton87 - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    Compared to Seagate random write performance this doesn't look unlike a GF that delivers almost constant 60fps compared to a card that delivers 60-500fps, so what's the big deal? Cap the performance at whatever level Intel SSD delivers and you will have the same consistency, but what's the point? It only matters if the drives deliver comparable performance but one is a roller-coaster and the second is very consistent which is not the case is this comparison. Allocate more spare area to the Seagate, even 25% and it will mop the floor with this drive and price per GB will be still FAR lower. Very unimpressed with this drive, but because it's an Intel product we are talking about on Anandtech it's lauded and praised like there's no tomorrow. Reply

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