Intel is introducing a new family of enterprise PCIe SSDs with the aim of outperforming their existing DC P3600 series and even beating the DC P3700 series in many metrics. To do this, they've essentially put two P3600 SSDs on to one expansion card and widened the interface to 8 lanes of PCIe 3.0. While this does come across as a bit of a quick and dirty solution, it is a very straightforward way for Intel to deliver higher performance, albeit at the cost of sharply increased power consumption.

The SSD DC P3608 appears to the system as two individual NVMe drives behind a PLX PCIe switch chip. This means that extracting full performance from this card will require software RAID-0 or some similar software load-balancing solution. A new version of Intel's Rapid Storage Toolkit for Enterprise (RSTe) drivers will be providing this capability. The overhead of the PCIe switch and managing two independent controllers means that the P3608 cannot attain an oughtright doubling of the P3600's performance.

The inclusion of two SSD controllers and a PCIe switch chip also drives idle power consumption up to 11.5W and makes a 2.5" form factor impossible, so the P3608 series will only be available as a half-height half-length PCIe expansion card. Intel's not too worried about the form factor constraint, because they're now able to make full use of the 8-lane PCIe slots that are the most common in the sort of servers these drives are typically used in.

The SSD DC P3608 is available in three capacities, with the smallest 1.6TB configuration having more overprovisioning to boost random write speeds. Active power consumption varies with capacity, but all models support a power governor setting to limit power consumption to 35W or 25W instead of the worst-case 40W. Intel has provided us with a 1.6TB SSD DC P3608, so a full review is on its way.

Intel Enterprise PCIe SSDs
  P3608 4TB P3608 3.2TB P3608 1.6TB P3700 1.6TB P3600 1.6TB
Capacity 4TB 3.2TB 1.6TB 1.6TB 1.6TB
4kB Random Read (IOPS) 850,000 850,000 850,000 450,000 450,000
4kB Random Write (IOPS) 50,000 80,000 150,000 150,000 56,000
Sequential Read (MB/s) 5,000 4,500 5,000 2,800 2,600
Sequential Write (MB/s) 3,000 2,600 2,000 1,900 1,600
Idle Power (W) 11.5 11.5 11.5 4 4
Read Power (W) 20 18 18 10 9
Write Power (W) 40 35 30 22 20
Form Factor PCIe 3.0 x8 HHHL PCIe 3.0 x4 HHHL or 2.5" 15mm
Endurance Rating 3 DWPD 15 DWPD 3 DWPD
Warranty 5 years


Source: Intel

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  • piiman - Sunday, September 27, 2015 - link

    Only if power is your main concern. Its a trade off more speed or less power???
  • blahsaysblah - Wednesday, September 23, 2015 - link

    Any chance of a benchmark run? A compile of UE4 or AOSP as reference? (under Win 10 please)

    Or is everything CPU limited except actual DBs versus good SATA3 SSD?
  • Billy Tallis - Wednesday, September 23, 2015 - link

    I'll be benchmarking the 1.6TB when I get back home from Samsung's SSD Global Summit, using our usual enterprise test suite. But what we can expect is that you need a really heavy multithreaded workload in order to make this drive really shine. Aside from implementing NVMe properly, there's simply not much that can be done to improve random reads at low queue depths, and that's the bottleneck for most interactive tasks.

    I'm pretty sure I don't have a big enough CPU to do C++ compilation with enough parallelism to produce the high queue depths needed for full performance from these drives.
  • DIYEyal - Wednesday, September 23, 2015 - link

    Any word on pricing?
  • Venya - Monday, September 28, 2015 - link

    Intel SSD DC P3608 priced at $2.19 per GB.
    So we have $3,009 (1.6TB), $7,009 (3.2 TB) and $8,759 (4 TB)
  • blahsaysblah - Wednesday, September 23, 2015 - link

    Thanks for info.

    For my next developer box, im seriously considering a semi-silent mini-itx box. After seeing those numbers, for a sec, i thought ATX was going to be back in style.

    I know im CPU limited for compiles, but havnt looked too closely. Was wondering if there was something to be eeked out of I/O instead of no-go super expensive Xeons.
  • DanNeely - Thursday, September 24, 2015 - link

    You could experiment with a RAM drive to see if anything could be gained from crazy-fast IO during compile. A speedup there obviously wouldn't guarantee a high end SSD would help; but if a ramdrive doesn't give you anything, you know there's no need for anything beyond a consumer drive.

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