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Intel Optane SSD 900P Review (480GB) – Understanding Disruptive Technology

So the Intel Optane SSD 900P NVMe SSD has been out for about a week now and it is expensive, hard to find and being termed as a disruptive technology by the SSD Gods.  By SSD Gods of course, I refer to 4-5 flash reviewers that have been in the industry since SSDs were introduced and I can draw a direct correlation between their work and how it has changed your lives to a great extent today.  I don’t include myself in this group as they are much smarter than I, but I try hard to maintain that ‘Coles Notes’ atmosphere where even the newest to flash technology can understand the most difficult of concepts.  So let’s explore disruptive technology…

Intel Optane SSD 900p 480GB NVMe SSD

When the SSD was introduced, it was a disruptive technology because it made possible the retrieval and storage of data at a rate that had never been imagined prior.  This is why your smartphone today is much more powerful than a PC was even a few years prior.  Simply, data traveled back and forth to a hard drive like a car on a single lane road, whereas an SSD was that multi-lane highway that accomplished things much faster. Add to this that flash had no moving parts and was much smaller than the hard drive and, well imagine your smartphone with a hard drive in it.  Flash technology enabled what we term as instant retrieval today.  SSDs are contained in data centers which house Facebook and just about every company that stores data worldwide.  SSDs are a disruptive technology, if not one of the worlds largest that we have seen in recent history.

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Understanding why the Intel Optane is a disruptive technology is a bit more complicated…but not really.  When you erased information from a hard drive, what would typical happen was that the index to that information was destroyed, and then the information was simply ‘run over’ as new information was added to that spot on the hard drive eventually.  SSDs don’t work like that.  Information is stored on an SSD in pages which are typically 4kb, 8kb, or 16kb in size.  Pages are stored in a block and may consist of 128 or 256 pages per.

The difficulty with NAND storage is that erasing data in a SSD could only occur in blocks so, theoretically, a 4K page  deletion could require the movement of as much as 4mb in data to clean (or store a file) on that specific block.  This is write amplification and limits the SSD lifespan in result.  The Intel Optane SSD 900P, and specifically Intel 3D XPoint memory changes this, in that, this memory can add, delete or replace information at the most basic level without requiring the large movement of data to accommodate such.  This results in significant performance and endurance increase and is very much considered disruptive as it has the potential to change the storage industry as we see it today.

Intel Optane SSD 900P NVMe SSD

Ok so… as painful as those last paragraphs may have been, I believe they were necessary for a full understanding of the Intel Optane SSD 900P, and more importantly, an educated opinion as to whether the purchase of this SSD is the right move for you.

Intel Optane SSD 900P Packaging

To help your decision along with respect to the pricing of the SSD 900P, Intel has included a coupon for Star Citizen which includes an exclusive in-game Sabre Raven ship which is the most powerful in its class and cannot be stolen within the gaming experience.  If it is, there is a warranty in place for replacement of the ship throughout the life of the game. Admittedly, I don’t game.  I simply haven’t the time.  But… Intel has partnered up with CIG Robert Space industries to fine tune the Optane to ensure faster load and transition times, as well as concurrent file retrieval for a smoother gaming experience.

Let’s move on to specs and teardown of the Intel Optane SSD 900P.

  • boogerlad

    How is the heatsink cover attached to the card? Is it possible to remove it without removing the heatsink from the pcb?

    • Yes it is simply clicked into place. It is very secure though.

  • hpvd

    awesome! many thanks for this analysis! Especially “REAL WORLD FILE TRANSFER COMPARISON” is great. Have seen this in no other place of optane reviews before. Only thing missing are some words reading boot speed in comparison to other fast but standard ssds (e.g. 960pro)

    • hpvd

      maybe you can also share some words on how does an optane drive feel in real life (workstation usage)?
      Are things faster? E.g. windows file search? looking for windows updates? Sorting folders with 1000 files by date/size/name? Generating previews of images in folders which has not been opened (=cached) before? Virus check?

    • Thank you for the comps. I haven’t had it as a boot drive just yet so cannot comment on startup or general system activity. Look forward to getting to this in the future though…maybe as a follow up.

  • Tyns

    “by marketing a new flash”
    No. It’s a new class of memory, not flash; those who have analysed it say it’s phase change memory (though Intel denies that).

    http://www.techinsights.com/about-techinsights/overview/blog/intel-3D-xpoint-memory-die-removed-from-intel-optane-pcm/

  • lorki

    any news on micron’s Quantx ?

  • Dave Wallace

    The Amazon link failed:

    Your search “intel optane ssd 900p” did not match any products.
    I’m in Oz.

  • Kos.Mos

    Something I haven’t seen on these yet, I know the original Optane Cache was only supported by a few Intel chipsets. Is the 900p compatible with AMD platforms? Not seeing any compatibility documentation anywhere…

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