Intel SSD 730 Series SSD Review (2x480GB)

Yesterday, we posted a report that seems to have drawn amazing attention, one that spoke to Intel’s final acknowledgement that their 3rd Generation controller was manufactured by none other than LSI.  That really isn’t that big of a news scoop unless you are an SSD geek.  It does tell us a great deal about the Intel 730 Series SSD we are helping Intel introduce to the world today; an SSD that also contains Intel’s 3rd Gen controller.  The controller inside the SSD 730 we are reporting on today has been around for some time and has proven itself at the enterprise level.

We first saw it in our report of the Intel DC S3700 way back in December of 2012, followed in June of 2013 when we reported on Intel’s new SSD DC S3500 Data Center SSD.  In our opening paragraph, we eluded to the fact that the DC S3500 was going to grab the enthusiast crowd because of its performance and newly discovered low price. Both SSDs having been based on the PS29AS21CA controller, perhaps our thoughts in that report were considered by Intel as the 730 certainly appears to be the twin of the S3500, yet aimed directly at the PC enthusiast and workstation applications.

Intel SSD 730 Series 480GB x2

Looking at composition of the SSD 730, Intel has an industry proven leader in their 3rd Gen 6Gbps controller, as well as using the same 20nm NAND flash memory that was used in the S3500.  They then set out to overclock and fine tune the 730, thereby realizing a 50% increase in controller speed, as well as a 20% increase in NAND bus speed.  Add to that firmware optimization which gives the 730 a very unique Data Center DNA, and RAID performance for a dual drive configuration exceeds 1GB/s, while latency hits a low 50µs and endurance is stretched to a massive 70GB per day for 5 years.  Top this with a MSRP of $249 for the 240GB and $480GB for 480GB version and there is not an SSD out there that matches this feature set, warranty, performance and price…on paper at least.

Check Out another Intel SSD 730 Series SSD Report at Technology X.

SPECIFICATIONS

Intel’s direction with the SSD 730 Series family is towards the digital media professional, workstations and the PC enthusiast.  It has a preliminary release date of March 18, 2014, and will be available in capacities of 240 and 480GB.  Performance for the 240GB capacity is listed at 550/270MB/s throughout with up to 85K/56K IOPS read and write while the 480GB capacity increases significantly to 550/470MB/s throughput and 89K/74K IOPS read and write. Intel’s sale of the 730, however, highlights a two drive RAID performance of over 1GB/s throughput and up to 168K IOPS.

Intel SSD 730 Series SSD Exterior Front

Power consumption for the 730 is listed at 1.4W Idle and 3.8W active for the 240GB with 5.5W active for the 480GB.  The 240GB is rated at 50GB per day while the 480GB is rated at 70GB per day lifetime endurance for the length of the five-year warranty.  Read latency is 50µs at 240GB, along with 65µs for the 480GB and the form factor is that of a ultrathin 7mm 2.5″ notebook size.

Intel SSD 730 Series SSD Exterior Back

COMPONENTS

We spoke of the similarities between the SSD 730 and the previously released DC S3500 and we invite you to check out our previous report for comparison.  The SSD 730 contains the Intel 3rd Gen PC29AS21CA0 6Gbps eight channel controller along with 2 modules of Micron DRAM cache memory. This controller is architected by Intel with Intel firmware. The 3rd generation Intel controller is manufactured exclusively for Intel. Intel contracts LSI for the manufacturing of this controller.

Intel SSD 730 Series SSD PCB2

Although there are 16 modules of memory on the 730, and similar to what we saw in the DC S3500, Intel goes against the grain in its NAND memory configuration.

Intel SSD 730 Series SSD PCB Angled

If you look closely at the memory product numbers on both sides, you will find there are 14 modules of 29F32BO8MCMF2 (32GB), a module of 29F64B08NCMF2 (64GB) and a module of 29F16B08LCMF2 (16GB) for a total of 528GB of RAW memory.

Intel SSD 730 Series SSD PCB Back

The product number of the SSD730 memory is the same as the DC S3500, given exception to the marking of ‘-ES-‘ on the end of the product number.  Given the high endurance of this SSD, we might think that the memory would be HE memory, however, literature speaks to it as being ‘Compute Quality Components.

NAND Memory

Lastly, the two capacitors on the side of the PCB remain in place, as with the previous 3500 and 3700 versions, to provide UPS protection should a power failure occur.

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Hoai Phuong
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Hoai Phuong

The first SSD which performs better random read in RAID than running alone I’ve ever seen! Good job Intel and thanks so much for the review! 😀

Jim Fripat
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Jim Fripat

why are there no other SSDs in the comparison pool for any of the tests? other sites show this SSD as much slower than others, yet comparisons are avoided here.

Les@TheSSDReview
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The best thing about multiple site reviews is that we all have our own way of either comparing or not comparing. Comparisons are not avoided at all, but rather, we have provided report consistent to that we have provided for several years. Thanks for checking our report out!

dravo1
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dravo1

I noticed that this SSD requires 12v and 5v inputs whereas other SSDs only require 3.3v. Is this just because of the controller being used?

SMiThaYe
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SMiThaYe

I had checked the datasheet last week and its either 12 V or 5V not both, using 12V is marginal gains. Check page 9 for more details from the whitepaper and much more: http://www.intel.com/content/dam/www/public/us/en/documents/product-specifications/ssd-730-series-spec.pdf

Lubomir
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Lubomir

Les, I always wonder when I see RAID0 results worse than single-SSD. My suggestion for you : try to compare SW RAID0 with HW RAID0 using proper controller, like the new LSI or Adaptec7/8series you liked so much. They have definitely shown some phenomenal muscles.

I guess several readers would be interested in software VS hardware raid0 performance numbers…

Les@TheSSDReview
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Thanks for the advise.

peter van schie
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peter van schie

is the corsair neutron gtx not faster than this ssd

Les@TheSSDReview
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The Neutron GTX has a rocket controller that has never got the true visibility it should. The same controller is used in the Seagate. Looking at numbers alone, you are absolutey correct but the 730 offers something just a bit more impressive that might lure in so many walking on the fence, proven reliability which has seen enterprise, as well as endurance.

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