Intel 750 Series SSDs combine PCIe with NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express), blowing SATA speeds away

Posted by Paul Braren on Apr 4 2015 (updated on Oct 1 2015) in
  • GPU
  • ESXi
  • Virtualization
  • HomeServer
  • NVMeStack

    Source: Intel

    This is the inevitable migration of enterprise-class hardware, right into the home lab enthusiast's server, including virtualization. These new form factors really have me thinking that pricey RAID adapters used to lump a bunch of SSDs together should be in our rear view mirror soon.

    The tiny Mini-ITX Xeon D System on a Chip has:

    • One PCIe x 4 M.2 slot
    • One PCIe 3.0 x16 slot

    so even at the lower end of the server motherboard market (great for home-labs!), it's getting to seem almost silly to use SATA for SSDs. Well, other than for price per gigabyte reasons.

    Let's look ahead to NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory express), which is now on the new Intel 750 series of solid state storage. Take a moment to let those incredible throughput figures sink in (with extremely low latency too):

    • Sequential Read 2400 MB/s
    • Sequential Write 1200 MB/s

    Next, take a look at all the speeds and feeds of this NVMe beast over at the Intel ARK Menu comparison between the 400GB and 1.2TB models. As far as efficiency, 12 watts max, 4 watts at idle. Not bad.

    Note that neither the PCIe (of course) or the 2.5" unit (pictured above) use SATA cabling. The 2.5" model uses an SFF-8639 jack for the SFF-8643 connector, pictured at Tech Report here.

    When you take the extreme bandwidth of the PCIe bus, and couple it with this disruptive NVME (Non-Volatile Memory Express), you are looking at the future of storage. As The SSD Review's Sean Webster explains here:

    Not only is the Intel 750 the first consumer released NVMe SSD, but also, it is Intel’s first PCIe Gen3 x4 SSD developed for the client enthusiast and workstation market. That is right, a powerhouse SSD envisioned for high-end systems and not your typical mom and pop’s builds. If you are looking for bleeding edge performance and top value in the consumer segment, look no further. Just wait until you see the price! This Intel PCIe SSD simply takes the crown.
    Now, let’s move onto NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory express) and explain why it came about and how it benefits us. Years ago before flash went mainstream, there was the AHCI interface. This was designed for use with high latency, slow performing hard drives. SSDs, on the other hand, are low latency, high speed devices. The AHCI logical interface for SSDs, while highly compatible, is very inefficient. NVMe was built from the ground up to replace the AHCI logical interface over the PCIe bus to allow greater performance out of flash storage devices. It better exploits parallelism, and provides lower latency...also a reduction in CPU cycle usage by over 50%.

    If you want to get into the weeds with NVMe versus AHCI before you read about the Intel 750 series, consider the nice write up by Kristian Vättö at Anandtech:

    Testing SATA Express And Why We Need Faster SSDs

    Don't miss Intel's:

    Ok, now for the rough part, the pricing. Yeah, more than your average 1TB SATA SSD, but also a whole lot faster. Head on over to Amazon to see current pricing, with an expected early-May 2015 release date:

    Intel SSD 750 Series PCIe AIC 400GB Internal SSD 3.5-Inch SSDPEDMW400G4R5

    Intel SSD 750 Series PCIe AIC 1.2TB Internal SSD 3.5-Inch SSDPEDMW012T4R5

    Source - The SSD Review

    Intel 750 PCIe SSD Review (1.2TB) – 1st Consumer 2.4GB/s NVMe SSD Set To Change The Industry

    Source - Anandtech

    Testing SATA Express And Why We Need Faster SSDs

    Source - The Tech Report

    Intel's 750 Series solid-state drive reviewed - PCIe storage pillaged from the datacenter

    Oct 01 2015 Update

    See also at TinkerTry

    Superguide: Timeline of USB, SATA, and Thunderbolt speeds