Intel today unveiled its first consumer-class solid-state drive (SSD) with a PCI Express 3.0 bus and non-volatile memory express (NVMe) high-speed host controller interface.
The new 750 Series SSD's performance tops out with sequential read/write speeds of up to 2,400MBps and 1,200MBps, respectively.
Unlike previous Intel consumer flash products that used a serial-ATA (SATA) computer bus interface, the new SSDs will be directly attached to a motherboard via NVMe or through PCIe interconnect.
"The key to this product is raw performance. It's the highest SSD performance you'll see ... for a long time," said Jeff Fick, an Intel product marketing engineer. "We're delivering anywhere from two to four times the performance over our last SATA-based drive."
The 750 Series SSD comes in 400GB ($389) and 1.2TB ($1,029) capacities.
Using 4KB operations, its random read/write performance peaks out at 440,000 input/output operations per second (IOPS) and 290,000 IOPS, respectively.
"We focused this product specifically on random [performance]. What we're targeting here ... is high-end desk top users as well as workstations," Fick said. "But the sequential performance is quite high as well when we compare it to SATA-based products."
While Intel has previously offered both NVMe and PCIe interconnects in SSDs, those products were aimed at data center use.
Intel's new SSD 750 Series, however, is the company's first consumer NVMe/PCIe Gen3 x4 (four I/O lanes] SSD.
While the majority of today's SSDs use the third-generation SATA interfaces, which run with a native transfer rate of 6Gbps over a single I/O lane, PCIe offers a total of 16GBps throughput.
Intel said it chose the PCIe/NVMe interfaces because SATA would have created a bottleneck for an SSD with as high a performance capability as the 750 Series.
Intel's previous high-end consumer SSD, the 730 Series, was a SATA-based drive. That drive had top a sequential read/write performance of 550MBps and 470MBps, respectively. Its random performance for reads/writes was 86,000 IOPS and 89,000 IOPS, respectively.
"When you start using these products in a Broadwell, or X99 or Z97-type platform, you'll find you really want this product to be a CPU direct-attached product," Fick said. "That means we're not actually connecting it to the [Platform Controller Hub] where normal storage would sit on a SATA interface."
The direct-attached nature of the 750 Series also lends itself to a lower latency. The SSD's sequential latency is around 20 microseconds for both reads and writes; latency for random reads and writes is 120 microseconds and 30 nanoseconds, respectively. (A microsecond is equal to one millionth of a second).
The 750 Series SSD has an endurance rating of 70GB of writes per day and up 219TB of writes over its lifetime. Intel also gave the SSD a 1.2 million hour mean time before failure rating (MTBF).
The 750 Series comes in two form factors: a standard 2.5-in SSD and a half-height, half-length add-in card. The 2.5-in SSD has a 15mm z-height, meaning it will fit in standard laptops, but not in ultrathins.
The 2.5-in version, typical for use in most laptops, will require a special cable and connector on a computer's motherboard to function correctly, an issue Intel said has addressed.
The 2.5-in model comes with a cable that connects to SFF-8639 PCIe at the drive and to Mini SAS (SFF-8643) at the motherboard. It has a SATA split off for power only.