Whenever Intel develops a new generation of SSDs based entirely on in-house technology, the result is usually a product that turns heads. Several times, Intel has set a new standard for SSD performance, starting with its original X25-M. Their most recent shake-up of the consumer SSD market was the Intel SSD 750, the first consumer NVMe SSD. Such significant releases don't happen every year, and in the intervening years Intel's competitors always catch up and surpass Intel.

However this year's revolution from Intel will be very hard for the competition to match anytime soon. All of Intel's previous record-setting SSDs have relied on the drive's controller to stand out from the crowd. This time, Intel's advantage comes from the storage medium: its 3D XPoint memory technology, a new nonvolatile memory that offers much higher performance than flash memory.

The Intel Optane SSD 900P

The new Intel Optane SSD 900P is a premium NVMe PCIe SSD offering the highest level of performance, with a moderate capacity. The Optane SSD 900P is intended for high-end desktop systems and workstations with very disk-heavy workloads. The Optane SSD 900P isn't for everyone and won't be displacing any existing products - it exists alone in a new product tier, with prices that are more than twice what the fastest flash memory based SSDs are selling for.

Optane is Intel's brand name for products featuring 3D XPoint memory.  The Intel Optane SSD 900P is actually the third Optane product to be released, but it's the first family member to go after the high end consumer market segment. The Intel Optane Memory M.2 drives released earlier this year have capacities far too small for general-purpose storage use and instead have been marketed for use as a cache device to be paired with a mechanical hard drive. Intel's caching strategy works and can bring a hard drive's responsiveness up to the level of mainstream SSDs, but it has downsides. The Optane Memory caching requires a few extra steps to setup, and the caching software will only run on Intel platforms introduced this year: Kaby Lake or newer.

The Optane SSD DC P4800X is Intel's flagship enterprise SSD, and it is priced accordingly—putting it far out of reach of consumer budgets, and even with a price tag of over $1500 for 375GB it has been quite difficult to acquire. In the enterprise storage market, the P4800X has been highly sought after, but it isn't appropriate for all use cases and is not a threat to the many enterprise SSDs that prioritize capacity over performance and endurance.

The Optane SSD 900P will still cause some sticker shock for consumers expecting prices in line with M.2 PCIe SSDs, but it is acceptable for the kinds of machines that might be packing multiple GPUs or 10+ CPU cores. The Optane SSD 900P probably wouldn't be the only drive in such a system, but it would work well as a blazing fast primary storage device.

Intel Optane SSD 900P Specifications
Capacity 280 GB 480 GB
Controller Intel SLL3D
Memory Intel 128Gb 3D XPoint
Interface PCIe 3.0 x4
Form Factor HHHL Add-in card or
2.5" 15mm U.2
HHHL Add-in card
Sequential Read 2500 MB/s
Sequential Write 2000 MB/s
Random Read IOPS 550k
Random Write IOPS 500k
Power Consumption 8W Read
13W Write
14W Burst
5W Idle
Write Endurance 10 DWPD
Warranty 5 years
Recommended Price $389 ($1.39/GB) $599 ($1.25/GB)

The Intel Optane SSD 900P is initially launching with 280GB and 480GB capacities. Both sizes will be available as PCIe 3.0 x4 half-height half-length add-in cards, and the 280GB model is also available as a 2.5" U.2 drive. Higher capacities may be added later, but Intel isn't promising anything yet. The sequential transfer speeds are nothing special for a NVMe SSD these days—Samsung's 960 PRO can hit much higher read speeds and slightly higher write speeds. The random read and write IOPS are far higher than any consumer SSD has offered before.

Intel's specifications for power consumption show one big reason why the Optane SSD 900P is a desktop-only product. Laptops are not equipped to supply up to 14W to a SSD, and they usually aren't equipped to cool a drive that idles at 5W instead of 50mW. The level of performance offered by the Optane SSD 900P cannot currently fit within the power budget or space constraints of a M.2 card.

The five year warranty Intel offers is typical for a high-end SSD in today's market, but doesn't compare to the 10 year warranty that Samsung's flagship 850 PRO SATA SSD offers. On the other hand, the 10 drive writes per day write endurance rating is far higher than most consumer SSDs get; 0.3 DWPD is more typical.

The Intel Optane SSD 900P starts shipping worldwide today, and here is our review of the 280GB version.

Who is the Optane SSD 900P for?
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  • eddman - Friday, October 27, 2017 - link

    Nice deflection with "I did not meant it as fact since I didn't use such words."
  • Notmyusualid - Friday, October 27, 2017 - link

    @ eddman

    I wish AT WERE bothered by him - he is distracting in so many articles, with his nonsense opinions, that I can't see any real discussion anymore.

    I doubt he has any foot in anyone's IT door, as he seems to have amazing amounts of free time to spend commenting on here. Meanwhile - I've been on the go since 05:30 this morning, come here to read about new tech, and yet again, this troll clogging up potentially useful discussion.

    I believe ddriver has a mental personality disorder, I'm just not sure which one, since schizoids and narcissists can be similar in some ways, and in no way am I a psych doctor.

    Therefore, I wish him nothing but the worst life has to offer.
  • lmcd - Friday, October 27, 2017 - link

    I don't care if he ends up with the worst life has to offer, I just want his internet to die for a month or two so we can see what normal comment sections look like.
  • MamiyaOtaru - Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - link

    the fact that you think you need to explain the "hypetane" "joke", or that there's anyone who wouldn't get it, says everything that needs to be said about you. You probably felt super clever coming up with that one, cramming two words together like it was the height of humor, and that it was subtle enough some people wouldn't get it. Meanwhile, it was super obvious to *everyone*, so obvious that it isn't even close to funny. It's like you are operating on a lower mental plane and don't even know it, a dunning-kruger of humor.
  • sonny73n - Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - link

    Lol. Brutal.
  • Meteor2 - Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - link

    Ha ha, indeed!

    Please folks, don't reply to posts to ddriver. Don't even bother reading them. Don't feed trolls!
  • melgross - Friday, October 27, 2017 - link

    Trust me, you’ve already reached the level of pointless mediocrity. You can applaud your achievement.
  • ddriver - Friday, October 27, 2017 - link

    Rule N1 - never trust people who say "trust me" ;)
  • lmcd - Friday, October 27, 2017 - link

    So I'll never trust your objectivity.

    As if I needed incentive.
  • investlite - Monday, November 6, 2017 - link

    LOL! Mediocrity? It's only 2.7x faster. Since you love analogies, the tesla goes 0-60 in 3 seconds. This does it in 1.4 and you're calling it mediocre. We get it, your disappointed that it's not 1000x faster. Here's my question, how have you not let go of something a company said two years ago?

    Talk about limiting your mindset, you've restricted your expectations to a statement two years ago when we have a tangible product in our hands now. How about you worry about what we've got instead of what was said about it two years ago?

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