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Intel 910 PCIe SSD Review – Amazing Performance Results In Both 400GB and 800GB Configurations

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The Intel 910 comes is one densely packed PCIe 2.0 x8 single slot form factor for a very slim profile. This half-height and half-length design is very important to ease installation into smaller racks. This does require some active cooling, as the densely packed PCBs do generate a bit of heat. 200 LFM (Linear Feet Per Minute) is not excessively high per server standards, but this is much higher than the airflow needed for many consumer devices.Clicking on the photo will bring it up to full size, and it can be observed that the SSD is a triple stack of PCBs. The top two are very close to each other, containing large banks of NAND. The bottom contains the individual SSD controllers and the LSISAS2008 processor. There is a larger gap between the bottom and the top PCBs, presumably to facilitate airflow to the processor components on the bottom PCB. The four large silver cylinders that are poking up from the bottom PCB are the Aluminum Electrolytic power capacitors. These capacitors have much higher heat endurance than super capacitors, and provide enough power (330uF) for the Intel SSD controllers to flush any data in transit to the NAND in the event of a power interruption. This is a critical requirement for any top-tier PCIe SSD that is intended for the enterprise space. Sadly, some PCIe SSDs do not have these types of devices integrated into their design, leaving users susceptible to data loss during power ‘events’.The bottom of the card reveals a row of Micron DDR2 SDRAM chips. All of these chips have counterparts that are located on the other side of the PCB with the controllers themselves. These provide caching for the controllers. The large chip in the center is the ‘brains’ of the LSISAS2008 processor, housing its firmware.While not easy to dissemble, the card does come apart into three separate PCBs. The bottom tier of the SSD holds the horsepower of the device. The four large black squares hold the individual SSD controllers, and the LSISAS2008 is hiding under the silver heatsink.  A closeup of one of the mating connectors reveals the 5 rows of female connecting slots that are contained in each connector on the bottom PCB. These attach to the corresponding pins on the other two upper tiers of the SSD to provide a means of communication amongst the PCBs. These connections must remain very tight, as many server environments are subjected to high levels of vibration when under normal operation. Fasteners are placed strategically next to each end of the mating connectors to help keep them secure, along with holding the PCBs together.

  • Jon Coulter

    Simply Outstanding Review Paul!

    • PaulAlcorn

      Thanks, this one was my pleasure for sure. The 910 is one of the best SSDs that i have been lucky enough to test. Really shes a beast, just an awesome performer 🙂

      • Yvanaquino

        When is this hitting the market? I can’t find it anywhere…

  • dravo1

    This looks like a dream product for VMware folks. Would it be possible to have PCI SSD reviews indicate whether the vendor supports multi-slot usage of the product?

  • Radim

    This is going to ROCK with nexenta or any other ZFS product. 2 of those with 4 mirrored drives across those 2 cards…. cant wait enough to test it behind SVC as tier0

  • Eric Kolotyluk

    I just purchased the 800 GB 910 recently. I wish I would have read this article first because Intel’s documentation is abysmal on two important points (1) you cannot boot from the device, and (2) it appears as 4 devices to the system.

    My application is a workstation and I would have liked to be able to boot the O/S from a single 800 GB drive in order to keep things simple. I would have preferred they implemented a hardware RAID controller.

    Currently I have it configured in RAID 0 from Windows 7 and the first thing I did was put the paging file there (192 GB) which helps the overall system performance. Also, I have my RAM Disk backing store there so rebooting or shutting down the system is much faster now.

    I am interested in tiered storage solutions – can anyone provide a references for something that might work?

  • Horst

    Hey guys, what about security? Is there any way to have two of those cards mirrored? In case this card is used to store data files for e.g. an OLTP database it might dramatically increase database performance, but it NEEDS to be 100% bulletproof and data secure! Any ideas?

    • Kr^PacMan

      Yep, since it appears as 2 logical drives to the OS, you can do RAID 1 with the 400 GB (2 logical) and even RAID 5/6 with the 800 GB version (4 logical drives).

  • Eliseu dos Santos Almeida

    El mundo incrible

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