First look - Intel 750 Series NVMe PCIe SSD in a Supermicro SuperServer 5028D-TN4T

Posted by Paul Braren on Sep 25 2015 (updated on Oct 22 2015) in
  • Storage
  • HomeServer
  • HomeLab
  • Virtualization
  • Updates to this article below.

    Click the image twice for a much closer look.

    Recently, I managed to temporarily get 2 SuperServer 5028D-TN4T loaners. Fired up Windows 10 on one of them, with BIOS 1.0b set to UEFI mode.

    Here's a picture, with the heat sink/airflow channel removed. Click to view Intel 750 Series on Amazon.

    I haven't gone through bootability testing yet, this is just a secondary drive for this first, quick look.

    Spec'd at 2,200 MB/s reads and 900 MB/s writes.

    I just ran ATTO Disk Benchmark from Windows 10, results below. Repeated runs give consistent results.

    Compare this to my recent test of the Samsung SM951 M.2 SSD a couple of days ago. They're very different animals. Results pictured below.
    Samsung M.2 spec'd at 1,600 MB/s reads and 1,350 MB/s writes, Intel 750 NVMe spec'd at 2,200 MB/s reads and 900 MB/s writes.

    I've had some issues with getting the fully recognized (accelerated) in VMware ESXi 6.0 Update 1, but that's for another day.

    Click twice to zoom in to 100%, then slide the image around.

    Source: Intel

    Sep 29 2015 Update

    It's "another day" now, and yes, I'm getting very close to full native speeds on VMware ESXi 6.0 Update 1 now, now that I'm using the Intel driver, check it out!


    Oct 04 2015 Update

    The Solid State Drive Toolbox GUI interface doesn't let you upgrade the firmware on your 750 Series, with the Firmware Update button greyed out.

    To get to the latest 8EV10171 firmware level, I just installed the Intel Solid-State Drive Data Center Tool and ran the following 2 commands:

    cd c:\isdct
    isdct show -intelssd

    this let me determine that of the several SSDs installed, the 750 Series NVMe SSD is drive 6, thus, the firmware upgrade command:

    isdct load -intelssd 6


    actually performed the firmware upgrade, took about 10 seconds, then I powered off and back on again, although a simple reboot should have been sufficient.

    Same test scenario, fresh Windows 10 64 bit, but this time, with the latest firmware 8EV10171. No signficant changes in performance was noted.

    Also, you can't do Secure Erase from Intel Solid-State Drive Toolbox under Windows 10.


    Oct 22 2015 Update

    Interesting bit of information about the Microsoft NVMe driver, over at FUTUREMARK:

    Short answer: because NVMe drivers behave differently than SATA/AHCI drivers. PCMark 8 benchmarks all storage devices the same way and NVMe is not any different.
    Long answer: New NVMe storage devices run on a completely new software stack. Traditional SATA drivers are not used and instead there's a new driver in Windows that can be either implemented by the device manufacturer or it can be the standard NVMe driver provided by Microsoft. What is different from old software stack, is that there's a command called FUA (force unit access) that is now implemented in Microsoft's driver so that all write operations are enforced to be written not only on a cache but on the non-volatile media. This is different from how AHCI was implemented and will lead to reduced performance. The benefit of the implementation with Microsoft NVMe driver is that it keeps your data safe in case of power outage or system crash.
    The storage performance (and as a side result also PCMark 8 Storage score) may be improved by installing device drivers provided by the device manufacturer. For example, Intel provides drivers for Intel 750 SSD that improve the performance. Another option is to tweak storage device policies in Windows. Futuremark does not recommend modifying Windows cache policies on a production system since it can lead to data loss during a power failure or a system crash.
    PCMark 8 never optimises or modifies the PC being benchmarked. Testing is done on the system as it is in order to reflect the real application performance an end user would observe when using the PC. Applications do not detect the storage device and change their behaviour according to device and neither should a benchmark do.

    See also at TinkerTry

    See also