We finally have the launch of the Intel DC P4600 and Intel DC P4500 NVMe SSDs today, a launch we have been anticipating for some time. These new 3D NAND based TLC SSDs mark a capacity boost for the Intel lineup. Furthermore, this is the first Intel generation we have seen, at launch, that is favoring the U.2 form factor over the add-in card (AIC) form factor. Even the recent Intel Optane launch, and the card that we used for testing, were AIC first. The NAND NVMe team certainly is seeing that with the next generation of Intel Xeon platform designs, U.2 will be more popular.
Intel DC P4600 Series NVMe Comparison
There are two AIC and three U.2 2.5″ form factor drives in the Intel DC P4600 launch series.
The highest capacity 4TB drives are only available in the AIC form factor. With larger capacity drives, DWPD becomes less of a factor. For a 100GB SSD, the prospect of writing 1TB/ day or 10 DWPD was tangible. With these larger capacity SSDs, there is a higher chance that some of the data will be static (if not the vast majority.) Writing even 8PB of data can be hard.
Intel DC P4500 Series NVMe Comparison
The Intel DC P4500 series NVMe SSDs are read focused. There is only one AIC offered, the 4TB model.
One can see that the drives have significantly lower write endurance and write speeds than the Intel DC P4600 series. Write speeds on the 1TB drives are measured at only 620MB/s sequential which is lower than we are accustomed to for most NVMe SSDs and nearing SATA SSD speeds.
The Intel DC P3520 series has been a hit. Higher capacity, lower endurance drives service the majority of read-intensive workloads out there. Making a 7 or 10 DWPD 4TB general purpose NVMe drive makes little sense so we can understand why Intel is focused on adding capacity and lower endurance numbers with this generation. It is also a watershed moment since only 33% of the drives launched were AIC form factor. U.2 is set to have a big second half of 2017 as the Intel Xeon line sees its most dramatic change since 2011.