This is one of those launches in the industry which is nothing short of perplexing. The Intel Optane P1600X carries a naming convention similar to other data center SSDs. It is also specifically marketed towards the data center on its product page. Yet, it is perhaps one of the stranger spec drives out there.
Intel Optane P1600X SSD
Usually, we would have the specs at the end of an article like this, but today we are going to put them up front. Here is the spec table for the 58GB and 118GB NVMe SSDs.
Let us get into some of the interesting parts. First, these are very small SSDs that are at the capacity we usually see for SATADOMs instead of mainstream SSDs. Second, they are still PCIe Gen3 drives, not PCIe Gen4. Third, they have features like 6DWPD which is less impressive than one may think.
Given the PCIe Gen3 interface and capacities, one may immediately think back to the Intel Optane 800P 58GB and 118GB M.2 SSD series. Here are the specs:
As one can see, this is a PCIe Gen3 x4 instead of an x2 drive and we get more performance. Still, the raw read/ write sequential performance is nowhere near a PCIe Gen4 NVMe SSD. For boot, it is often the random IOPS that increase speed.
The 6DWPD claim is very interesting as well. For example, 118GB at 6DWPD = 708GB written That is about 1.5DWPD for a 512GB drive or 0.7DPWD for a 1TB NAND drive. Still, boot drives tend not to focus on DWPD. When an OS is loaded onto a boot drive, it often sees the core OS files stay static. In some cases, log files are written to the drive but the majority of the drive has data that infrequently changes.
The 2M hour MTBF number is more in-line with most data center SSDs and higher than consumer drives which are usually in the 1.6M hour range.
To us, the big challenge is capacity. In some applications, we have deployed very small boot drives but we tend to deploy 256GB and larger drives these days as NAND prices have fallen. If anything, one gets stung by low capacity usually before having a bit of extra capacity in a server or embedded device.
This is certainly an interesting drive, but it is also one we want to see pricing on before we would buy it. The NAND SSDs offerings for boot are generally very good these days so a low capacity Optane option has some headwinds. The random performance may help to the point that, for example, in a firewall, a reboot can happen faster saving seconds in bringing a service back. Perhaps that is the big win for this device.
Our other sense is that this may be an interesting lower cost and low-capacity log device for some servers when a NAND SATA DOM is used with low endurance and capacity.