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Intel DC S3700 800GB server SSD review: reliable and consistent

Enterprise SSD with new Intel controller

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Intel DC S3700

Intel recently launched a new series of SSDs intended for servers. The DC S3700 SSDs employ a new generation controller from Intel itself, and are supposed to offer good, and most importantly, reliable performance. Hardware.Info tested the 800 GB model.


When you buy an SSD for a high-end desktop PC, you're primarily interested in getting one that's fast. For servers performance is of course also of importance, but two characteristics are essential for a good server SSD. That would by dependable, consistent performance and reliability. And those are the qualities that the new DC S3700 SSDs are striving for.

Intel DC S3700 Series 800GB

The new SSDs use a new controller, the Intel PC29AS21CA0. It is the successor to the PC29AS21BA0, used in the SSD 710 series of server SSDs and the consumer SSD 320 series. Unlike the old one, the new chips are SATA600 compatible, which is the main reason why the new SSDs are significantly faster than their predecessors. The S3700 is available in capacities of 100 GB, 200 GB, 400 GB and 800 GB. The last two are supposed to have read speeds up to 500 MB/s and write speeds up to 460 MB/s. Random read and write tasks with 4 kB data blocks should achieve 75,000 IOPS and 36,000 IOPS, respectively. While these are higher numbers than those of the SSD 710 series, compared to other recently released consumer SSDs they're not that impressive.

The distinguishing factors are found elsewhere. Intel indicates that with an identical random workload the number of IOPS will differ no more than 10 percent after a period of time. That is remarkable indeed, as our tests of other SSDs have proved that the performance drops after a certain period of time. That's because the internal garbage collector needs time to do its job. And in servers predictable performance is more important than the best possible performance. The access time is supposed to stay under 500 milliseconds 99.9 percent of the time, according to Intel.

Another characteristic that proves the S3700 is intended for heavy server workloads, are the reliability numbers cited by Intel. Thanks to the High Endurance Technology (HET), the DC S3700 SSDs can be completely written over 10 times per day for five years, according to Intel. For our 800 GB model, that means 8000 GB of writes per day, or a total of 14.6 petabyte. That equals 186 years of HDTV material, says Intel. For consumer SSDs typically 20 GB per day is promised, or 36.5 terabyte in five years. Intel achieves this impressive reliability by using 25nm MLC flash memory chips with an MTBF of two million hours.

The SSDs support hardware-based 256-bit AES encryption. Large capacitors inside the SSDs ensure that the contents of the buffer memory can be safely written to the flash during a power outage. While size isn't as important for servers, the S3700 SSDs are only 7mm high.

UK prices are not yet known, but for US distributors they are as follows: $235 for 100GB, $470 for 200GB, $940 for 400 GB and $1880 for 800GB. Considering the SSD 710 200 GB costs $800, the new server SSDs are more affordable priced.


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