In examining all that Intel has accomplished with respect to 3D XPoint memory and the Intel Optane SSD 900P, we can see that they have in fact changed direction in the industry by marketing a new flash that can reduce latency significantly through a new form of disk management. The result is a lack of need for TRIM and garbage collection as 3D XPoint can now erase and store very small amounts of data, rather than using the traditional method of store by page yet erase at block level. This page/block process results in write amplification which reduces performance and endurance in SSDs significantly. In comparing the Intel Optane SSD 900P to the Samsung 960Pro M.2 SSD, they both have 5 year warranties yet the Intel claims 21 times longer endurance for relatively the same capacity ssd (480/512).
Considering performance, the Intel Optane SSD 900P did just what it said it could and then some. Typical of Intel, specifications for the SSD were just a bit conservative but, for the first time, we can feel confident that the performance expected from the SSD will be there regardless of the workload. Gone are the days that an SSD maintained listed performance until steady state kicked in and it dropped significantly. The best representation of this performance that we have seen to date became evident in our PCMark 8 Bandwidth result shown here:
This graph identifies the best consumer NVMe SSD on the market, yet each falls well below the Intel Optane 900P when they are pushed to the point that that TRIM and garbage collection isn’t possible. This test took 13 hours and is one of the most trying on any SSD, yet the Intel Optane 900P remained steady at just under 2GB/s while the rest of the sampled SSDs couldn’t maintain above the 600MB/s mark for most of the test.
Availability and pricing are a concern right now. A quick check of Amazon shows availability of only the 280GB from a third party and double the manufacturers suggested price. Add to that the fact that the Optane 900P is only available in the HHHL AIC format right now, and in capacities of 280 and 480GB, and this limits, or hinders the buying decision of many. As much as I would love to replace my Samsung 960Pro 2TB NVMe SSD in my HP Spectre laptop with a 2TB M.2 version of the Optane 900P, I can guarantee there is a reason that this won’t be happening any time soon. Remember, eack memory package in this 480GB SSD only contains 16GB of available storage space. How would that work on a M.2 SSD? Is it possible the 64GB capacity M.2 Optane is all we will be seeing for awhile?
Lastly, is the Intel Optane 900P the SSD to fit your specific needs? As much as I can guarantee that there are tens of thousands of PC enthusiasts that will jump for the opportunity to have the biggest and baddest in their new build, it just doesn’t make much sense for the typical home user that doesn’t push their PC whatsoever to go out and upgrade to this SSD. Looking back at that PCMark 8 result above, this is an enterprise SSD in consumer packaging. If I were a high-end media guy, I might seriously look at this. Professional gamer? Intel sure has made the sale there, at least with the free copy of Star Citizen and the exclusive ship.
The Intel Optane SSD 900P NVMe SSD loses points on availability and pricing but that is it. This SSD is the most powerful SSD we have had in our hands to date and its implementation of 3D XPoint Memory ensures that this is a disruptive technology. There are still so many questions with respect to form factors and capacities to be marketed but, all in all, the Optane 900P is one amazing SSD. Editor’s Choice!