If you absolutely want the fastest performance from your storage device, look no further than Intel’s Optane SSD DC P5800X. The P5800X delivers up to 7.2 GBps of sequential bandwidth and random performance of over 1.5 million IOPS, easily outperforming all competing storage devices on the market. In fact, it’s four to five times faster than the fastest flash-based NVMe SSDs with the all-important queue depth (QD) of 1, meaning it offers the spiciest user experience money can buy.
Intel originally launched the P5800X as an expensive data center SSD and didn’t offer it to the consumer market, mainly because the company had already shut down its entire line of Optane products for desktop PCs. However, after hearing feedback from storage enthusiasts, Intel reconsidered and made the P5800X available for anyone to buy. But that comes with a few caveats: The P5800X is intended for “workstation use” only and comes with a hefty price tag.
Intel’s previous-generation Optane SSD 905P was the company’s fastest SSD at launch. Still, it didn’t deliver PCIe 3.0 bus-saturating performance due to its controller design, and it hasn’t been the all-round best SSD for a while — especially as new PCIe 4.0 SSDs became widely available. However, the DC P5800X delivers more bandwidth and performance at random workloads than its predecessor thanks to improvements to the controller combined with a wider PCIe 4.0 interface and second-generation Optane media, making it easily the fastest drive for money (much) is for sale.
|Interface / Protocol||PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3d||PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3d||PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3d|
|controller||Intel S LNBF||Intel S LNBF||Intel S LNBF|
|Memory||2nd generation Optane||2nd generation Optane||2nd generation Optane|
|Random reading||1,500,000 IOPS||1,500,000 IOPS||1,500,000 IOPS|
|Random write||1,150,000 IOPS||1,350,000 IOPS||1,500,000 IOPS|
|Security||AES 256-bit encryption||AES 256-bit encryption||AES 256-bit encryption|
|Endurance (TBW)||73 OJ||146 PB||292 PB|
|Guarantee||5 years||5 years||5 years|
Intel’s Optane SSD DC P5800X comes in capacities of 400 GB, 800 GB and 1.6 TB. Ranging from $1,189 to $3,724, each is priced significantly higher than any typical flash-based SSD. With performance specs of up to 7.2/6.2 GBps of read/write throughput, the P5800X offers great sequential performance, addressing one of the main weaknesses of its predecessor. The DC P5800X also delivers up to 1.5 million random read/write IOPS, not to mention the industry-leading QD1 performance.
Intel backs the P5800X with a five-year warranty and also gives these drives the highest durability ratings we’ve seen – up to 100 writes per day. For example, while a standard 1TB NVMe SSD can handle 600-1,800 terabytes of writes, the 800GB P5800X is guaranteed to handle a whopping 146 petabytes of write data. The 1.6 TB model doubles that to a record 292 petabytes of endurance.
Software & Accessories
Intel backs up the SSD with the company’s recently redesigned memory and storage tool. This will allow you to monitor and diagnose the SSD and update the firmware if a newer version is available.
A closer look
As a data center SSD device primarily, the DC P5800X has a more usable U.2 form factor at 15mm thick, rather than a bulky Add-In Card (AIC) like the P4800X and 905P. The housing is made of solid aluminum and has fins integrated into the design to ensure proper cooling. Although Intel has improved the power efficiency of these new-generation Optane products, they still consume a lot of power compared to standard consumer flash drives.
A PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe Optane media controller, which we’ll call the LNBF (as etched into the IHS), powers the drive. The LNBF controller is compatible with NVMe 1.3d, but the company says a firmware update can upgrade the device to NVMe 1.4. The controller supports AES 256-bit hardware encryption to ensure data security. It also comes with standard features such as SMART data reporting capabilities and thermal throttle protection that kicks in when the device reaches or exceeds 70 degrees Celsius. Our example also supports three power modes (13W, 15W, and 17W) and multiple LBA sizes.
The LNBF’s higher channel count is a notable improvement over the previous generation SLL3D controller. While the SLL3D had up to seven channels, the LNBF scales to eight channels for our 800 GB model and up to 12 channels for the 1.6 TB model (the extra channels offer only minor performance gains).
Intel optimized for single sector reading, which makes it easier for small files of 512B transfers. Surprisingly, the controller only has a single-core ARM Cortex R7 CPU that runs at a maximum of 1.1 GHz. The drive has no DRAM – you don’t need that with byte-addressable Optane media.
Intel’s second-generation Optane media is what makes the P5800X so special, but it’s also why it costs so much. With eight packs on the PCB, each containing four dies, our 800GB copy comes with plenty of fast and expensive 256Gb dies (half the size of the larger 1.6TB model). That’s twice the mold density of first-generation Optane media.
Intel scaled out to a four-deck design, from just two decks with the first-generation media, which also helped improve memory array efficiency. As a result, the number of bond pads per chip has increased from 81 to 85 and the efficiency of the memory array has increased from 57.8% to 67.4%. Intel has also reduced the die a bit, from 206.5mm2 to 195.6mm^2. With this figure, we can calculate the bit density of the second-generation Optane media as 1.31 Gb/mm2, which is minuscule compared to the current high-layer NAND flash, which can measure 10x as much.
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