Intel SSD 760p Series M.2 NVMe will be available in up to 2TB capacity at near SATA pricing and double 600p performance
This article takes a quick look at Intel's latest SSD specs, and their potential for use in a VMware virtualization home lab environment. I do not currently have a sample of the 760p for first-hand testing. The information here is based on a briefing I recently received from an Intel spokesperson.
The new Intel SSD 760p Series far exceeds the specs of the first-generation M.2 NVMe SSD that Intel launched in Q3'16, the Intel SSD 600p Series, that maxed out at 1TB of capacity. The 760p is available today in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB sizes, with 1TB and 2TB sizes later in Q1‘18.
- Amazon (not yet, search here).
- B&H (not yet, search here).
- Newegg, in 512GB, 256GB, and 128GB capacities.
- Other (Google Shopping search)
Initial first-hand benchmark results from other sites are looking favorable, see index below.
You can view Intel's full press release on the Intel SSD 760p Series soon, at the Intel Newsroom here.
- Intel SSD 760P Series Overview
- What’s in the Box for Intel® SSD 760p Series
- Compare all Intel SSD 760p Series capacities
- Intel® SSD 760p Series for Optimal PCIe Bandwidth Product Brief
- Support for Intel® SSD 760p Series
Here's a comparison of the 600p with all 3 new SSDs on Intel ARK, and summary of Intel's clear product positioning for the SSDs announced today:
Intel® SSD 760p Series
- Great for mobile and desktop platforms.
- Offers twice the performance and half the power consumption.
- Detailed specifications on ARK.
Intel® SSD Pro 7600p Series
- Built for Business.
- Added security features and manageability for business PCs.
- Detailed specifications on ARK.
Intel® SSD E 6100p Series
- Reliably built. Optimized for Embedded and IoT solutions.
- For embedded designs with commitment for extended supply life.
- Detailed specifications on ARK.
Note for vSAN enthusiasts: Take a careful look at Intel ARK, and note that none of these 3 new M.2 NVMe SSDs feature Enhanced Power Loss Data Protection, so they will be unlikely to ever show up on the VMware VCG, more details below.
Last summer, the Intel SSD 545s 2.5" SATA SSD was the world's first 64-layer TLC 3D NAND SSD:
Intel Takes Another Major Step in Memory Leadership
Introducing the First 64-Layer, TLC, Intel 3D NAND Technology for Client Computing
By Rob Crooke
Intel has delivered the world’s first commercially available 64-layer, TLC, 3D NAND solid state drive (SSD). While others have been talking about it, we have delivered.
At Intel, our commitment is to drive platform-connected solutions that deliver a better experience wherever compute and data come together. We continue to invest in both Intel® 3D NAND technology and Intel® Optane™ technology to make that happen.
Intel SSD 760p Series
Today, we have the big announcement of the 760p Series next generation 64-layer device featuring a new controller. At last, the marketplace seems to have a worthy competitor for the Samsung 960 EVO/PRO NVMe SSD speed champions used heavily in my own home lab, at a lower better price.
The 760p may be a candidate for users interested in bumping up their laptop drives too, such as the SM961 in my Dell Precision 5520. Not sure if the 760p runs cool enough to be suited for use as OEM drop-in replacements. I saw these sorts of thermal issues first-hand a year ago, when briefly trying a Samsung 950 PRO in my Dell Precision 5510, only to experience thermal throttling.
Note, consumer NVMe drives aren't warranted for use as VMware datastores, but they sure do perform very well, given NVMe's high throughput and low latency, and relatively low cost, without requiring a pricey RAID adapter.
Let's now have a closer look at the Intel warranty.
and there we find the links for the various consumer drives, including the 3 digit product names this article highlights, the 545s, the 600p, and the 760p. Read carefully:
Additionally, the Product will not be subject to this Limited Warranty if used in:
(i) any compute, networking or storage system that supports workloads or data needs of more than one concurrent user or one or more remote client device concurrently;
(ii) any server, networking or storage system that is capable of supporting more than one CPU per device; or
(iii) any device that is designed, marketed or sold to support or be incorporated into systems covered in clauses (i) or (ii).
I'd say that Intel is being pretty clear here, VMware vSphere is most definitely a "compute system" that supports more than one concurrent user, and therefore isn’t covered by Intel's SSD warranty. How that would be enforced is an open question. Does this restriction also apply to workstations running Hyper-V VMs, VMware Player/Workstation VMs, or Oracle VirtualBox VMs?
Bottom line for home virtualization labs
Clearly the Intel SSD 7 Series is faster than the Intel SSD 6 Series, but we'll need to see how street prices look to really know what the differences are on a cost-per-gigabyte basis.
I also do not know how well they will perform with the VMware inbox (included) NVMe VIB (driver). Keep in mind that the Intel 750 Series required Intel's VIB for optimal performance. I'm also not at all sure I'll have the budget or time to do first-hand testing of the 760p.
Finally, the Samsung 960 PRO 2TB M.2 NVMe SSD and the (WD/SanDisk) Toshiba XG5-P 2TB M.2 NVMe SSDs may have a worthy competitor, at a lower price. Given how costly NAND and RAM has become, any competition could signal welcome relief to consumers already feeling the pinch of high NAND and DDR4 prices.
What about Optane?
That's a completely different product category of storage, let's start with the recently surfaced Optane-based 800P that's coming soon.
Intel® SSD E 800P M.2 SSD (~1Q2018)?
- CES 2018: Intel Launches Optane 800P M.2 2280 SSDs, 60/120GB Capacities
Jan 09 2018 by Allyn Malventano at PC Perspective:
Warranty will be 5 years with an endurance of ~200GB per day. No word on cost at this time. Overall these though fit nicely between Optane Memory (16/32GB) and the 900P (280/480+GB) capacity points.
The elephant in the room is the capacity. While these can store more than the 16/32GB variants, 60/120GB may not be enough for most users out there. Fortunately, devices like these are great in Zx70 RAID or even VROC configurations!
In a nutshell, the 800p seems to be a consumer bootable drive version of the original Intel Optane M.2 16GB/32GB drive that was never really intended for use as anything but cache. But the 800p is still too small, maxing out at 128GB currently. Optane drives are currently too low in capacity at too high a cost-per-gigabyte to be justified as a candidate for VMFS datastore use in a VMware ESXi home lab, see also warranty notes below.
How about Optane P4800X (3Q2017)?
Again, far more costly than 760p, targeted at a vastly different audience than last summer's Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X Series. It's geared toward enterprise use, with a warranty and price to match, seen right here at TinkerTry. Turns out there were also some bumps in the road when trying to use it with Xeon D. This wasn't a surprise, since the target audience was really new enterprise servers based on the Intel Xeon Scalable Processors, see Intel Xeon Scalable Processors (Purley) Unveiled - Intel and VMware touting roughly 2.5x the performance and 4x as many VMs versus the Xeon of 4 years ago, the caveat being those figures are for customers using Optane storage.
Once the P4800X shipped, it became clear the prices per gigabtye wouldn't make it a match for anything but the most pricey home labs, and/or vSAN enthusiasts looking for the necessary Enhanced Power Loss Data Protection and inclusion on the vSAN VCG. For straight up VMFS 6.0 VMware datastores, the Samsung 960 actually offered slightly higher raw throughputs, at higher latencies, but a much lower cost.
How about the Optane 900P (4Q2017)?
Next came the consumer oriented 900P, detailed at TinkerTry here. Also many bumps in road, and even a crash, clearly not intended to be used with VMware's P4800X NVME VIB (driver), and still far more costly per gigabyte than NAND-based flash.
What about PCIe adapters?
Putting a bunch of M.2 drives into a single PCIe slot has considerable appeal, see also the upcoming, promising adapter card
- ASUS Hyper M.2 x16 Card Expansion NV Me M.2 drives and speed up to 128Gbps Components
along with prior, similar offerings first made available about a year ago:
- M.2 expansion for your NVMe SSDs - EZDIY adds, Angelbird Wings adds and cools, Amfeltec Squid adds, cools, and quadruples
I'd need to test this adapter first-hand to see how it goes with VMware ESXi 6.5.x (JBOD). This will include basic compatibility checks with my Xeon D's PCIe 3.0 x4 slot. I already know the BIOS is capable of the bifurcation feature that some PCIe-to-NVMe-adapters require, those without PLX chips. Keep in mind that it's unlikely that any such consumer adapters will be showing up on VMware's HCG.
This consumer focused article is intended for my home lab enthusiast audience at TinkerTry, and is not representative of VMware's official position on the use of consumer SSDs for VMware ESXi workloads. I'm a VMware vSAN Systems Engineer, but this article represents only my personal viewpoints. It's your responsibility to verify whether your production workloads are backed by SSDs found on the VMware HCG (Hardware Compatibility Guide) here, full disclosure and disclaimers listed below.
Jan 23 2018 Update
See also other consumer SSDs warranty information discussed here.
At roughly 4pm eastern time, the Intel ARK entries for the 7600p and 6100p series surfaced, links added to the above article at this spot.
Relocated the aside about Optane to its own Addendum section.
See also at TinkerTry
Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X Series can be ultra fast vSAN cache, storage, or RHEL/SLES 8x memory extender using Intel Memory Drive Technology
Mar 21 2017
Intel announcements include details about benchmarking Optane P4800X in VMware ESXi, new 750GB capacity, and 3D XPoint fab expansion
Nov 13 2017
Intel Optane SSD 900P Series is the latest in 3D XPoint NVMe hotness but it is not ideal for most home virtualization lab enthusiasts
Oct 31 2017
How to configure VMware ESXi 6.5.x for VMDirectPath I/O pass-through of any NVMe SSD, such as Windows Server 2016 installed directly on an Intel Optane P4800X booted in an EFI VM
Aug 24 2017
Intel's new Ruler form factor allows up to 1PB of NVMe in 1U, along with a new 2.5" 3.8TB SATA SSD and Dual Port SSDs for Data Centers
Aug 15 2017
- Intel Optane M.2 16GB/32GB consumer NVMe SSDs for Windows caching are not that fast as VMware VMFS or NTFS, save up for bigger PCIe versions
Jun 11 2017
How to free up that internal 2.5" HDD/SSD drive bay in your Dell Precision 5510 laptop
- Intel's first M.2 NVMe SSD might be available by late 2016, around the time Intel Micron 3D XPoint arrives
Feb 26 2016
- Affordable NVMe? Intel's new 760p series
Jan 23 2018 by Jeremy Hellstrom at PC Perspective
The overall performance was mixed, for reads this drive is one of the best TR have tested however the write speeds are barely faster than a SATA drive; at this price point that should not scare you off unless you plan on doing a lot of writes.
- Intel SSD 760P M.2 NVMe SSD Review (512GB)
Jan 23 2018 by Sean Webster at THESSDREVIEW
The Intel SSD Pro 7600P and Intel SSD E 6100P are built for business and IoT applications, but the focus of today, for us at least, is the Intel SSD 760P. It is the latest consumer SSD on the block and after having it in our hands for the past week, it looks like it has a lot going for it thanks to its new 64-layer 3D TLC NAND.
- The Intel SSD 760p 512GB Review: Mainstream NVMe Done Right
Jan 23 2018 by Billy Tallis at AnandTech
Today Intel is launching a new NVMe SSD for consumers. The Intel SSD 760p is a M.2 SSD featuring Intel's 64-layer 3D TLC NAND flash and a new Silicon Motion controller, and it will compete as an entry-level NVMe SSD.
- Meltdown's Impact on Storage Performance - Really an Issue?
Jan 05 2018 by Allyn Malventano at PC Perspective
Most of the published data to date shows a ~20% performance hit to small random accesses, but I've noted that the majority of reviewers seem to be focusing on the Samsung 950/960 series SSDs. Sure these are popular devices, but when evaluating changes to a storage subsystem, it's unwise to just stick with a single type of product.