64-Layer 3D TLC NAND Goes To the Data Center

The successor to the Intel SSD DC P4500 series, the Intel SSD DC P4510 series, was first released to Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) in August 2017 and is now widely available. Intel updated this enterprise drive series by using the latest 64-layer 3D TLC NAND Flash memory and optimized the firmware for the controller to work in unison with the changes. Luckily for Intel, no controller change was needed. Getting the firmware right is critical on enterprise drives where reliability, endurance, latency and throughout all equally matter. By moving over to 64-layer TLC 3D TLC NAND Flash memory, Intel was able to able to increase drive capacities and performance. The Intel SSD DC P4510 is available in 1TB, 2TB, 4TB and 8TB capacities. To get the maximum storage density for this series, Intel went with the U.2 2.5" 15mm form factor on the PCIe 3.1 x4 interface with NVMe 1.2 certification. There are U.2 ports available on recently released high-end desktop motherboards and servers, but you can also purchase M.2 adapters that will allow you to run a U.2 drive over an open PCI Express slot. The P4510 Series enables up to four times more terabytes per server and delivers up to 10 times better random read latency at 99.99 percent quality of service than previous generations. Intel will be bringing out drives in this series using the new Enterprise and Datacenter SSD Form Factor (EDSFF) 1U Long “ruler” and 1U short form factors later in the year. Intel SSD DC P4510 8TB Enterprise Drive Performance on the new Intel SSD DC P4510 drive series is impressive. The flagship 8TB drive is capable of 3.2 GB/s reads with 3.0 GB/s writes when it comes to Sequential throughput. Random 4K read/write IOPs are are rated at up to 637K IOPS read and 139K IOPS write. The smaller capacity drives have similar read speeds, but have differing write speeds. The performance of the Intel SSD DC P4510 Series is solid and the power consumption isn't bad with  16 Watts of power consumption at peak load. Like Intel’s other data-center SSDs, these drives offer hardware AES 256-bit encryption,  end-to-end protections from silent data corruption, enchanged power loss data protection, temperature logging, and are backed by a 5-year warranty. Endurance numbers are about as good as they get with a rating of 1 full drive write per day. That means over a course of a 5-year period you could write 14,600 TB to the drive or another words it has an endurance of 14,600 TBW or 14.6 PBW). If you are using the JESD219 JEDEC SSD endurance workload you get a little lower endurance rating of 13.88 PBW. This enterprise workload factors in a 24 hour work day use at 55C and has a transfer size distribution of 67% 4K, 10% <4K, 10% 8K and 13% 16K-64K. Intel SSD DC P4510 Specifications If you haven't updated the drives in your datacenter in a number of years these single drive performance numbers should be mighty impressive. The price tag on these drives range from $654.99 to $5050.59, which sounds like a lot, but that breaks down to $0.63 to $0.65 per GB. That is actually rather good pricing for an enterprise drive series and just happens to be on par with high-end consumer SSDs that some try using to cut data center costs. Today well be taking a closer look at the Intel SSD DC P4510 2TB and 8TB drives. The 2TB model is one of the more popular capacities right now due to the $1179.27 price point and the 8TB model is ideal for those that need that much storage space or want the most performance. Although at $5000, the 8TB model might be out of reach for some businesses.   Intel SSD DC P4510 8TB Drive Back We won't be opening up these drives as Intel did place thermal tape over the 64-layer 3D TLC NAND Flash memory and once the drive it opened the thermal performance will never be as good as it once was. We plan on keeping this drive around for future testing and din't want to have any thermal issues. Inside we were told by Intel that there are two PCBs connected by a large ribbon cable and a large capacitor for the drives power loss protection features. Intel SSD DC P4510 Thickness Having two PCBs and large capacitor means that this is going to be a thick U.2 drive and at 15.0 mm thick it dwarfs a typical 7 mm thick SATA drive as you can see in the image above.   We should also mention that the Intel Solid-State Drive Toolbox works perfectly with the Intel SSD DC P4510 Series, so you can use it to monitor the drives and update the firmware in a Windows enthronement. Let's take a look at the Intel X299 test platform that we used and then move along to the benchmarks.

The SSD Benchmark Test System

Before we look at the numbers, let’s take a brief look at the test system that was used. All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (version 1709 build 16299) and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. This means windows defender, windows update, disk fragmentation and everything else that would interfere with testing was disabled. Windows 10 also had the power option set to high performance and we also disabled c-states and Turbo mode on the Intel Core i9-7960X to ensure our numbers are spot on and repeatable.
 
Intel X299 Platform: The Intel X299 platform that we used for testing consisted of the ASUS PRIME X299 Deluxe motherboard. We ran the motherboard with BIOS 1301 that came out on March 20th, 2018. We used Intel Chipset Driver v10.1.1.45, Intel Management Engine Interface v11.7.0.1057 and Intel RST v15.9.0.1015 drivers.  The Corsair Vengeance 32GB 4000MHz DDR4 dual channel memory kit was set to XMP profile 1. We used an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 8GB Founders Edition video card with GeForce 391.24 WHQL drivers. We also used the Corsair AX860i digital power supply, Corsair Hydro Series H115i water cooler and Crucial MX500 SSD for the boot drive.

Intel X299 Test Bench

Intel LGA 1151 Test Platform
Component Brand/Model Live Pricing

Processor

Intel Core i9-7960X

Motherboard

ASUS PRIME X299 Deluxe

Memory

Corsair Vengeange LPX 4000MHz 32GB

OS Drive

Samsung 850 PRO 512GB

Power Supply

Corsair RM850x

Operating System

Windows 10 64-Bit

CrystalDiskInfo 7.6.0 Readout:

The readout on CrystalDiskInfo 7.6.0 shows that the Intel SSD DC P4510 series supports S.M.A.R.T. and the NVM Express 1.2 standard. The drive we received had firmware version VDV10120 (also known as 0120) installed and that is the version that we used for general testing and benchmarking. The overall capacity shows up as 1.81 TB on the Intel SSD DC P4510 2.0TB and as 7.27 TB on the Intel SSD DC P4510 8.0TB in Windows 10 version 1709. Please remember that 1GB = 1,000,000,000 bytes. A certain portion of capacity may be used for system file and maintenance use, thus the actual available capacity may differ from the labeled total capacity. Let's have a look at the performance!

Anvil Storage Utilities & AIDA64

Anvil Storage Utilities 1.1.0

Along with the move to a new platform, we decided to make a change in one of the benchmarks. There's a relatively new benchmark called Anvil Storage Utilities that is in beta but close to production. It's a very powerful tool that measures performance through a variety of tests which can be customized. Since some of the tests more or less duplicate what we get from other benchmarks we use already, we decided to use the IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second) testing on 4kb file sizes at a queue depth of 1, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 and 128. IOPS performance is something SSD makers tout quite a bit but we generally don't do a lot of IOPS testing because frankly a lot of users can't relate to IOPS metrics as well and it tends to be more meaningful to the enterprise/server crowd. Still, it is another performance indicator with relevance and while some drives post good MB/s numbers, their IOPS scores aren't always commensurate which this test will prove out.

Anvil SSD Applications Benchmark at 46% Compression:

Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2TB SSD -  Intel SSD DC P4510 Series 2.0TB SSD -  Intel SSD DC P4510 Series 8.0TB SSD -  Benchmark Results: With the compression at 46% to help mimic real world applications better we found Intel SSD DC P4510 2.0TB drive coming in with an overall score of 12,854 points and the larger 8.0TB model coming in just behind that with a score of 12,366 points.  Benchmark Results: The 4K Random Read performance on the Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2TB drive and the Intel SSD DC P4510 2TB drive were actually pretty close to one another. Our P4510 8TB drive had lower 4K random read performance across the board and topped out at just shy of 450,000 IOPS at QD128.  Benchmark Results: When it came to 4K Random Write performance, the Intel SSD DC P4510 2TB drive topped out at 412,000  IOPS at QD32 and the 8TB drive topped out at 412,000 at QD64. 

ATTO & CrystalDiskMark

ATTO v3.05

ATTO is one of the oldest drive benchmarks still being used today and is still very relevant in the SSD world. ATTO measures transfers across a specific volume length. It measures raw transfer rates for both reads and writes and places the data into graphs that can be very easily interpreted. The test was run with the default runs of 0.5KB through 64MB transfer sizes with the total length being 256MB. Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2TB SSD -  Intel SSD DC P4510 Series 2.0TB SSD -  Intel SSD DC P4510 Series 8.0TB SSD -  Benchmark Results: ATTO showed the Intel SSD DC P4510 8TB drive reaching speeds of up to 3033 MB/s read and 2902 MB/s write in the standard overlapped I/O benchmark. This drive is rated at up to 3200 MB/s max sequential read and 3000 MB/s max sequential write, so we came up just shy of those scores on our test platform. The 2TB drive is rated at 3200 MB/s read and 2000 MB/s write and we managed to hit 2909 MB/s read and 1980 MB/s write, which is closer. We hit just shy of 2700 MB/s read and 1300 MB/s write on the Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TB drive from 2015, so the write performance is much better and the sequential read performance is barely better.

CrystalDiskMark 6.0.0 x64

CrystalDiskMark is a small benchmark utility for drives and enables rapid measurement of sequential and random read/write speeds. Note that CDM only supports Native Command Queuing (NCQ) with a queue depth of 32 (as noted) and shows the highest score of five runs. Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2TB SSD -  Intel SSD DC P4510 Series 2.0TB SSD -  Intel SSD DC P4510 Series 8.0TB SSD -  Benchmark Results: The Intel SSD DC P4510 8TB drive reached 2982 MB/s read and 3175 MB/s write in the standard sequential write test. The smaller Intel SSD DC P4510 2TB drive came in at a comparable 2983 MB/s sequential read speed, but lower at 1989 MB/s on the sequential write test. Oddly enough, the 4K QD1 random read performance on the 8TB drive was found to be 25% slower, while the 4K QD1 random write speeds were basically the same.  Let's look at some other benchmarks!

AS SSD Benchmark

AS-SSD (2.0.6485.19676) Benchmark:

We have been running the AS-SSD Benchmark app for over some time now and found that it gives a broad result set. The programmer has worked very hard on this software and continues to make updates often so if you use it, show him some love and send him a donation. There are now three tests that are found within the tool and we'll show the results from all three of them.

Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2TB SSD - 

Intel SSD DC P4510 Series 2.0TB SSD -  Intel SSD DC P4510 Series 8.0TB SSD -  Benchmark Results: On AS SSD, the Intel SSD DC P4510 2.0TB drive had an overall score of 4,698 points and on the 8.0TB drive we topped out at 5,156 points. The 'old' Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2 TB drive from 2015 topped out at  3,726 points. 

Linear Write and Real World File Transfer Testing

AIDA64 Disk Benchmark

We've had some people ask for AIDA64 linear write tests to be done, so we fired that utility up to see how the Intel SSD DC P4510 2TB and 8TB drives do with longer sustained writes. We left the block size on auto and it selected 4MB on the 2TB drive and 2MB on the 8TB drive for this test. Performance started out at around 1800 MB/s and actually increased on the 2TB drive. The lowest write speed in this test was observed being 1808 MB/s with the highest being 1971 MB/s. On the larger 8TB drive we started out at 1800 MB/s again, but performance jumped up to around 2600 MB/s after a few seconds. The average speed to write 800 MB of data to the 8TB drive was 2623 MB/s! Impressive performance numbers for sustained writes.

Final Thoughts & Conclusions

First off the Intel DC P4510 was built for primarily for Cloud Service Providers that are looking for mass storage in data centers. The Intel SSD DC P4510 was released in August 2017 in 1TB and 2TB capacities and now the series has gotten 4TB and 8TB models. This is great news as it allows unprecedented storage density where real estate is more times than not limited. On the performance front, the Intel SSD DCP4510 Series has solid numbers. We found that it had excellent transfer speeds, access times and random 4K IOPs scores. The overall performance didn't blow the 'old' Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2TB U.2 drive out of the water, but it was faster in most all workloads. Moving to 64-layer 3D TLC NAND helped Intel increase drive capacities while not having any negative impact to performance. The endurance on the Intel SSD DCP4510 series is 1.92 PBW for the 1TB drive, 2.61 PBW on the 2TB drive, 6.3 PBW on the 4TB drive and 13.88 PBW on the 8TB drive. Intel also placed a 2 million hours Mean time Between Failures (MTBF) rating and a 5-year warranty on this series. This should ensure years of use and abuse in datacenters and workstations. Intel SSD DC P4510 8TB Enterprise Drive When it comes to pricing the Intel SSD DC P4510 series starts at $654.99 for the 1TB model and goes up to $5506.55 for the 8TB model.

Intel SSD DC P4510 Series Pricing 

That puts the price per GB at around $0.65, which pretty good for the target audience. This drive is all about allowing data centers to cram more storage into a rack and have good performance, endurance, manageability and a solid warranty to fall back on. If you are looking for some drives for your next deployment we suggest giving the Intel SSD DC P4510 series a closer look.   LR Recommended Award Legit Bottom Line: The Intel SSD DC P4510 series is a solid performing drives designed by a company that has built products for the data center for many years. These are hard to pass up if you are needing large capacity drives with good endurance!