While synthetic workloads do a great job of testing the underlying technology and reporting easy to understand results, they aren’t always indicative of how the drive will be used by the end user. Workloads that simulate enterprise environments try to bridge that gap without being overly complex.
The database profile is 8K transfers, and 67% percent of operations are reads.
The database profile shows us the individual attributes of the three drives we are looking at. At a queue depth of 1, the P3700 has a slight advantage, due to its superior low queue depth write performance. From there the overwhelming write advantage of the HGST drives take over. Finally, the P420m take the lead at high queue depths due to its read performance.
The fileserver profile is based on an 80% read/20% write mix. Its made up of blocksizes from 512 to 64K, each making up a different percentage of the access pattern. The pattern is: 512 bytes=10%, 1k=5%,2k=5%, 4k=60%, 8k=2%, 16k=4%, 32k=4%, 64k=10%.
The P3700 led most of the way in our fileserver test. Its class leading sequential write performance is enough to hold off the sequential read performance of the P420m.
The webserver profile is similar to the fileserver profile, but has some additional 128K and 512K accesses thrown in for good measure. Additionally, the profile is 100% read.
The P3700 and P420m were neck and neck at lower queue depths in our webserver tests. Once the queue depths got higher, the P420m pulled away.
Overall, the P3700 performed much like we expected. While it was not able to best the competition at every mark, it was competitive throughout.
REPORT ANALYSIS AND FINAL THOUGHTS
With the release of the P3700, and also the P3500 and P3600, Intel has made a huge splash in the NVMe market. Intel, once again, is showing their technical leadership. This line of products is made up of things both old and new. They have taken a huge step forward with their 18-channel, PCIe flash controller. This is the type of long-term investment that we can see them leveraging for many years to come. Intel went with the same tried and true NAND technology that has succeeded so well in the S3500 and S3700 SATA SSDs. When it all comes together, you have a wonderful enterprise device that can serve a multitude of needs.
When you look at the results, the P3700 didn’t produce crazy, unheard of performance. Yes, it did perform extremely well in certain tests. It required an extremely low amount of CPU overhead along with other tangible benefits. But there were two things that might make you wonder if this is just an enterprise drive.
The first is the excellent low queue depth performance. While enterprise environments are able to throw a large number of IOs at an SSD, consumer applications are normally limited to much lower queue depths. In fact, many traces we have seen show that consumer applications typically generate 4 or fewer simultaneous IOs. Many times, people see these outrageously high enterprise results and think it will speed up their computer at home, but because they are skewed to high queue depths, the performance increase would likely not be realized. The P3700, on the other hand, should perform really well in a workstation or enthusiast environment.
Finally, what makes the P3700 great is the price. At $3/GB, it may seem really high, but for a drive with 10 DWPD write endurance, this is a good price. For an NVMe/PCIe SSD, that price is amazing. We have said this many times in the past, you pay for for write performance and write endurance, end of story. What we are more excited about is the P3500 series. While this device has lower write endurance and write performance, it should still be an amazing drive for enthusiasts. At $599 for a 400GB SSD, it might seem like a lot of money, but enthusiasts will look at their dual GPU setup and think its a bargain.
Before we claim this to be the best consumer PCIe SSD on the market, we have a few more tests to run. Stay tuned later in the week to see how this drive performs under more consumer workloads.
As of now, it is still an enterprise drive. In our opinion, with pricing where it is, the Intel SSD DC P3700 is the best value in enterprise storage. Sure, you can get better performance in certain areas, from other drives, but it will cost you a premium. Intel has brought speed, performance, endurance and NVMe technology to the mainstream.