The difference between Intel Optane 900p 280GB SSDPE21D280GASM and SSDPE21D280GASX

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Intel Optane 900p 280GB Side By Side Packaging
Intel Optane 900p 280GB Side By Side Packaging

One topic we have been inundated with over the past few weeks is the Intel Optane 900p. At launch, the 480GB capacity is only available in the add-in card format. As the capacity would have been more than the Intel DC P4800X 375GB drive (the 750GB version was just released), Intel limited it to a AIC form factor. In the 280GB space, there are three different Intel Optane 900p launch SKUs: SSDPED1D280GASX, SSDPE21D280GASM and SSDPE21D280GASX.

Intel SSDPED1D280GASX and SSDPE21D280GASX Differences

Since we now have over a dozen Intel Optane 900p 280GB drives in-house, we wanted to show the difference between the variants. First, the SSDPED1D280GASX is the PCIe add-in card variant. The “D” seems to indicate AIC while the “2” seems to indicate U.2.

Intel Optane SSD 900P Series AIC Front W
Intel Optane SSD 900P Series AIC Front

The box is much larger and it is easy to tell that it is indeed a different drive form factor.

Intel SSDPE21D280GASM and SSDPE21D280GASX Differences

The U.2 form factor is perhaps a more interesting form factor for many server readers. There are two model numbers, SSDPE21D280GASM and SSDPE21D280GASX for these drives. First off, each U.2 variant has a different UPC (735858359184 and 735858359207) and EAN (5032037115773 and 5032037115797.)

Intel Optane 900p 280GB Side By Side UPC
Intel Optane 900p 280GB Side By Side UPC

The back of the retail box has the different product codes labeled SSDPE21D280GASM and SSDPE21D280GASX and the boxes show the contents and connection type (m.2 or U.2 connector type.)

Intel Optane 900p 280GB Side By Side Models
Intel Optane 900p 280GB Side By Side Models

Once you open the box you can see the two drives. Note, they do not come in an ESD bag.

Intel Optane 900p 280GB Side By Side Packaging
Intel Optane 900p 280GB Side By Side Packaging

On the drives themselves, they are marked with the exact same model number, SSDPE21D280GA, which is what we suspect is the bare U.2 drive model number.

Intel Optane 900p 280GB Side By Side Drive Models
Intel Optane 900p 280GB Side By Side Drive Models

The main difference between the M and X variants are the included connection cables. Here is the side by side (X on the left, M on the right)

Intel Optane 900p 280GB Side By Side Cables
Intel Optane 900p 280GB Side By Side Cables

If you unpack them, you can see the U.2 drive cables. Each has a power input via a SATA style power cable. The other end of the cable is the data connection. The X part has a SFF-8643 style connector which is popular on many motherboards and add-on card risers. The M part has a M.2 2280 adapter.

Intel Optane 900p 280GB Side By Side Cables Removed
Intel Optane 900p 280GB Side By Side Cables Removed

If you wan the model numbers for replacement parts or to swap versions, the M.2 to U.2 cable is J15713-001 and the standard U.2 cable is H73681-001.

Intel Optane 900p 280GB Side By Side Cable Model Numbers
Intel Optane 900p 280GB Side By Side Cable Model Numbers

You will not need these if you have a backplane that supports U.2 drives.

Intel Optane 900p U.2 In Server Hot Swap
Intel Optane 900p U.2 In Server Hot Swap

Final Words

Perhaps not the most exciting article ever at STH, however, we have received this question repeatedly so it seemed like it was worthwhile to add. Also, if you search for “Optane M.2” you may end up with Optane Memory which is a significantly less expensive and lower performing solution. It is best to use either SSDPE21D280GASM or SSDPE21D280GASX in your search for the M.2 or U.2 variant cables. If you are using them in servers, then you can purchase either as the drives inside the packages are the same. Pricing wise, they should be equal at around $390 list price however some retailers are charging an early adopter premium and limiting quantities. It took us almost ten days to accumulate a dozen drives in the lab.

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