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Intel NVMe SSD launch targets growing cloud storage

Intel's PCIe-attached NVMe drive families include one for server-side enterprise apps and another to replace SATA SSDs in cloud environments.

Intel has expanded its PCIe-attached solid-state drives for the nonvolatile memory express protocol, with two new families of flash cards architected with the vendor's 3D NAND memory.

The Intel NVMe SSD products launched last week are aimed at growing data center cloud storage use cases. They were part of the Broadwell Xeon processor E5-2600 v4 hardware release. Broadwell chips are built on 14-nanometer process technology, and are designed to help enterprises move on-premises workloads to public or hybrid cloud storage.

Intel added the Intel SSD Data Center (DC) D3600 and DC D3700 dual-port NVMe drives for enterprise networked storage that needs high availability. The drives top out at 2 TB and support up to 80 I/O queues via the NVMe queuing interface.

Intel also added the DC P3320 and P3520 NVMe product line for scale-out rack systems and server-based storage.

Intel NVMe SSDs integrate floating gate technology

The DC D3700 comes in 800 GB and 1.6 TB capacities. The 800 GB version is rated for sequential read performance up to 1.9 GBps, sequential writes up to 970 MBps, up to 450,000 random read IOPS and up to 65,000 random write IOPS.

The 1.6 TB DC D3700 is rated to handle sequential read speeds up to 2.1 GBps, sequential writes up to 1.5 GBps, and random read and random write performance up to 470,000 IOPS and 30,000 IOPS, respectively.

Intel's DC D3600 SSDs are available in 1 TB and 2 TB capacities. Intel rated the 1 TB DC D3600 for sequential reads up to 1.8 GBps, sequential writes up to 940 MBps, up to 450,000 random read IOPS and random write performance up to 25,000 IOPS.

Intel 3D NAND is based on floating gate array technology.

The 1 TB DC D3600 is rated to deliver sequential read performance up to 1.8 GBps and sequential write performance up 940 MBps. Intel rated it to handle up to 450,000 random write IOPS and 25,000 random read IOPS, respectively.

The PCIe Gen 3 DC D3700/D3600 series is engineered with a dual-port NVMe controller, and enables hot plug insertion and removal via U.2 connectors for in-service replacement. Intel 3D NAND is based on floating gate array technology.

Greg Matson, director of strategic planning and marketing in Intel's NVMe solutions group, said the D Series NVMe SSDs are intended to run on private cloud servers used to host traditional line-of-business applications.

Intel's NVMe DC P3320 SSDs consolidate SATA disks

The Intel NVMe DC P3320 and P3520 NVMe drives target hyperscale data centers and cloud service providers that run distributed failover across clustered server hardware.

Matson said Intel envisions the drives as a low-cost replacement for SATA SSDs.

"The P3320 and P3520 drives are a continuation of our existing P3500 PCIe drives, except we've added the NVMe support. We've targeted these drives to make it affordable to deploy all-flash [in servers] and bring PCIe performance to the warm storage tier," Matson said.

The DC P3320 is available in 450 GB, 1.2 TB and 2 TB capacities. The 2 TB model is rated to deliver up to 1,600 MBps of sequential read speed of 1,600, sequential write performance up to 1,400 MBps, random read performance up to 365,000 IOPS and up to 65,000 random write IOPS.

The P3320 1.2 TB Intel NVMe SSD has a performance rating to handle sequential reads up to 1,600 MBbs, sequential writes up to 1 GBps, 275,000 random read IOPS and 22,000 random write IOPS.

The 400 GB P3320 model is rated for sequential reads up to 1.1 GBps, up to 500 MBps sequential writes, and random read and random write IOPS up to 130,000 and 70000, respectively.

Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy in Austin, Texas, said likely use cases for Intel's NVMe flash storage include scale-out databases and transaction-processing workloads.

"The use of 3D NAND is interesting and innovative in that it results in faster performance and higher capacity. Using their own NAND gives them an advantage in that they have the ability to package the chip and chipset together at point of sale," Moorhead said via email.

Along with the NVMe PCIe drives, Intel introduced two series of SATA-based SSDs, including the entry-level S3100 Series that it billed as an alternative for server-side disk storage; and the E5400S Embedded Series of MLC-based SSDs for storage of Internet of Things data, including digital signage, retail kiosks and point-of-sale devices.

Intel said P3320 and P3520 drives will be generally available in June or July. It said customers are sampling the D3600/D3700 NVMe SSDs, with drive shipments expected during the second half of 2016. Pricing of the drives was not disclosed.

Next Steps

3D TLC NAND and NVMe will be big in 2016

How caching and NVMe technology impact performance

The different types of flash to choose from

Dig Deeper on Server-based SSD implementations

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How could Intel's NVMe SSDs increase the adoption of server-based flash storage?
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I'm curious as to how this fits in with the Intel layoffs. Is Intel keeping this project and all its people? How many of them are likely to hang around even if they don't lose their jobs this round? It sounds like some people are unhappy about how it was handled. (Not that there's many ways to lay off 11% of the company without making people unhappy.)
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