Intel Anounces First Desktop 3D XPoint Product, Optane SSD 900P

Intel just announced the Optane SSD 900P desktop SSD at CitizenCon, a community gathering of Roberts Space Industries' StarCitizen players event, held in Frankfurt, Germany. The choice of location comes from a partnership between the game developer and Intel. The Optane SSD 900P ships with an exclusive in-game ship, the Sabre Raven. As you might imagine, the ship comes with a special ability that ties in with Optane performance. The Sabre Raven is really fast!

Not to overlook the virtual ship but the real story here is that enthusiasts and power users finally get to take a full bite of Optane technology rather than a sample size nibble.

The Intel Optane SSD 900P will come to market in two capacity sizes, 280GB and 480GB. The series uses two form factors, 2.5" U.2 and half-height, half-length add-in card (AIC). This will start to get confusing so look closely. The 280GB will have two 2.5" models on launch day. One comes with a standard U.2 cable and the second comes with an M.2 to U.2 adapter cable. The 480GB will not ship in a 2.5" form factor until a later date. It will ship in the add-in card form factor starting today.

Regardless of the form factor or capacity size, all Optane SSD 900P drives deliver up to 2,500 MBps sequential read and 2,000 MBps sequential write performance. This is lower than some of the other high-performance NVMe SSDs shipping today, but we will address that in the next section. The drives also deliver up to 550,000 random read and 500,000 random write IOPS performance. This is class leading performance, but there is more to the story.

How Fast Is That?

3D XPoint memory performance is closer to the speed of DRAM than NAND used in SSDs. SSD marketing numbers show maximum performance that comes only at high queue depths. Most of us rarely surpass queue depth 4 and the faster the storage, the less likely you are to even build data requests. This memory addresses the problem with performance at usable workloads.

In the chart above we have the three fastest Intel consumer storage products from different market segments: SATA SSD, NVMe SSD, and Optane NVMe SSD. We've also added the new Seagate BarraCuda Pro 12TB, the fastest consumer hard disk drive shipping today.

Random read performance is what makes your PC feel fast. In the chart above we used the CrystalDisk Mark application to take a quick performance sample. We also presented the data in megabytes per second rather than IOPS to tighten the scale and ease the complexity.

The move from hard disk drives to flash-based storage was a large performance leap. The next transition from SATA flash to NVMe flash was more of a stumble for many users. NVMe is excellent for complex workloads, but most users don't take advantage of its capabilities. You wouldn't intentionally change what you do on your PC to make your storage work harder. 

Intel's Optane 900P compared to a hard disk drive is like flying across the country compared to the previous incremental moves across the performance neighborhood. Even compared to high-speed NVMe SSDs, there is a significant increase using common workloads.

You can read more about the 900P's performance in our detailed review.

Intel's Optane SSD 900P sells for $389 (280GB) and $599 (480GB). We expect products to be ready to ship before the end of the day from your favorite online stores.

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