Intel's first M.2 NVMe SSD might be available by late 2016, around the time Intel Micron 3D XPoint arrives

Posted by Paul Braren on Feb 26 2016 (updated on Feb 27 2016) in
  • Storage
  • HomeLab
  • HomeServer
  • UserGroup
  • Let me start of by stating that this was just a Virtualization User Group - Boston meeting, not an official Intel PR-approved presentation. I'm simply sharing what I learned at this event, with 2016 shaping up to be an exciting year in storage tech. So glad I made the 100 mile drive up, to meet some new folks, and to learn more about the latest storage tech, so I can share it all with you! Special thanks for the leaders of the Virtualization Group – Boston, for making this free event happen.


    SSD Storage Deep Dive with Intel and SolidFire

    February 25 2016
    Microsoft N.E.R.D. Center

    First, SolidFire

    We kicked off the evening with the chance to enjoy Jeramiah Dooley's presentation about all-flash storage and software vendor SolidFire (NetApp):

    Storage Architecture and Data Services: The Real Flash Revolution

    Always good to learn what's going on out there, see also SolidFire Named All-Flash Systems Product of the Year by Storage Magazine/, and Jeramiah's unique and fun sense of humor from a recent Boston VMUG here.

    Next up was Intel.


    Intel SSD Data Center Techology

    Greg Calfin: Regional Applications Manager, Intel Compute & Embedded Sales

    Greg, showed this inspiring video:

    And presented what's happening this year in Intel storage. Here's the highlights of what we learned:

    3D XPoint Technology

    • 3D XPoint may have 2H2016 seeding, with availability late in 2016 or early 2017.
    • We know 3D XPoint will be more costly than NVMe.
    • Intel co-developed 3D XPoint with Micron.
    • 3D XPoint is DIMM form factor.


    • We learned that in our audience of about 50 people, only 3 hands went up when Greg asked how many were using NVMe storage today. You guessed it, mine was one of them. See also Google search results for NVMe mentions at TinkerTry.

    • Silent data corruption detection technology is getting more advanced, using radiation tests to get systems to hang or fail. As far as data corruption avoidance, Intel claims to be the best among their competitors.

    • Intel Optane is simply their term for NVMe "hot tier" storage.

    • Intel plans to offer an NVMe storage in the M.2 form factor! During Q&A, I asked about Intel's plans for NVMe storage in the M.2 form-factor. Here's Greg's reply:

      yes, so we have them on our roadmap, and um, we will be, we will be introducing them, I think they're coming out this year actually...I'm a generalist, so part of our business is with folks that do high-end gaming PCs and stuff, they absolutely need that, people doing workstations and CAD, so we want to be in that business, and we think we're in a good position, because when we get those out, we'll do NVMe in, in that you know M.2 form-factor, and then we can follow-up with the XPoint solutions to go even faster.

    A member of the audience, who owns two Intel 750 Series NVMe PCIe SSDs in his full tower case, mentioned the potential heat issues with the Samsung 950 PRO NVMe SSD, and asked if Greg could comment on how Intel will handle heat dissipation. The gist of his response is around more efficient controllers. You can hear these discussions for yourself, right here, right now:

    I believe the Virtualization User Group - Boston plans to publicly publish the full audio and video of the recorded event on Vimeo here.

    I'm really framing this question from a consumer/home server enthusiast perspective, where price and performance trump endurance. What do you think, will you be interested in Intel's response to the Samsung 950 PRO, or are they too late? Drop a comment below!

    FYI, when I was benchmarking the Samsung 950 PRO, I used full chassis fan speeds to easily avoid any throttling. Stay tuned for a simple and better solution that I've come up with, confirmed by FLIR One thermal imaging analysis. I'll be demonstrating this on the world's first Xeon D-1541 sample, at my local VMUG this Tuesday, March 1st. I personally think the heat dissipation issues have been a bit overblown for home lab or gamer use. Even when this self-preservation throttling kicks in, the speeds are still far faster than any SATA3 SSD. Most of the time you're doing momentary reads that only briefly spike anywhere near the 7 watt peak, spending most of the time idling along at a mere 70mW.


    See also at TinkerTry

    Here's my stories about the Intel 750 Series that I had on loan late last year:
    thanks to a very friendly IT Professional peer:

    You may also want to check out:
    Next Generation Storage Tech Stories


    Intel 750 Series NVMe PCIe SSD supported by ESXi 6.x out-of-the-box, install Intel's VIB for full speed

    My discussion about enterprise SSDs with Intel's Ken LeTourneau:


    Finally, here's what I'm currently doing in my home lab:

    That's actually now first on VMware's Hardware Compatibility Guide:

    See also