We have Intel to thank for bringing consumer SSD out at an affordable price, with its release of the impressive X25-M means back 2008. This revolutionary product introduced desktops to the phenomenal speed increases offered by solid-state storage, and it led the field for an excellent year or two. Eventually SandForce caught up and Intel’s drives were relegated to second spot, using their performance eclipsed by much cheaper offerings. Since then Intel has struggled to provide top-tier performance, with buyers instead likely choosing Intel SSDs for their impeccable dependability history, something other drives struggled with. But with the newest generation of SSDs such as for instance Samsung’s 850 Pro providing 10 year warranties, even that benefit has slipped away. Intel had a need to do one thing new to recapture the attention of the SSD market, and it did so in the Intel 750 and its use of a new technology understood as Non-Volatile Memory Express, or NVMe for short. This might be a brand new specification for controlling SSDs which can be attached directly to the PCI Express bus. It replaces the Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) standard that’s been used to access hard drives going back decade or so, which was originally built to manage magnetic mechanical drives. NVMe is made from the ground up for the massive amounts of parallelism and low latency made available from SSDs. The greatest difference is within the command queuing offered by NVMe compared to AHCI. A difficult drive’s command queue optimises the order in which read and write commands are executed, and AHCI had a maximum queue depth of 1 command queue, and 32 commands per queue. NVMe increases the number of command queues and commands per queue exponentially, to an enormous 65536 command queues, each of which supports another 65536 commands per queue. This permits a huge boost in SSD performance, especially when it concerns IOPs, or Input Output Operations Per Second. Intel may be the fi rst to market with a consumer SSD utilising NVMe, and is releasing it initially in two capacities – 400GB and a whopping 1.2TB. That explains the rather high pricing, but price per Gigabyte is actually extremely competitive, with your 1.2TB arriving at just $1.34. This is well within the price selection of other PCIe drives, and it is in fact cheaper than the majority of them. The memory applied to the 750 is Intel-Micron’s 20nm 128 Gbit MLC NAND, and our 1.2TB model has 18 memory packages on the leading part, with another 14 regarding the back. This provides the drive a total of 1.376GB of memory, but Intel advertises it as a 1.2TB drive as here is the total usable area – it’s nice to see more SSD makers are now only advertising the usable amount of room, as opposed to the total. Intel is using its CH29AE41AB0 controller to handle all of this memory, and it brings full power loss protection to the drive. Even though you’ve got data in the cache of the drive at the time of power loss, this SSD should retain stated data, a huge improvement over the semi-power loss protection of other SSDs, which only protects data that has recently been written towards the main storage. The Intel 750 can be obtained in two type factors – there’s the half-height, halflength PCIe version that we tested, along with a 2.5” 15mm drive. The latter was shown offextensively at Computex, as it uses a fresh SFF-8639 connector, which was shown on many future motherboards. It uses four PCIe lanes to increase the throughput, so we can expect to see this becoming standard on motherboards in the future, most likely replacing the inferior SATAe option. So how does the Intel 750 perform? In a word – breathtakingly. This is effortlessly the fastest customer drive we have tested, and by a large margin. It’s not too proficient at sequential performance, as Intel has alternatively dedicated to random read/writes, which is far more beneficial in the genuine world, but it still leads the pack with a sequential read result of 693MB/ sec, and a write speed of 737MB/sec (the 850 Pro does 511MB/sec and 478MB/ sec respectively). In the 4K QD16 test, which mirrors real world application performance, we begin to see the 750 posting a read rate of 528MB/sec and 979MB/ sec, compared to the 850 Pro’s 378MB/ sec and 341MB/sec. The IOPs tests were an additional league, with read performance around 40% faster than an 850 Pro at 135,074 IOPs, and read performance nearly 300% quicker at 250,536. Make no bones about it, Intel has leapfrogged the competition with the Intel 750. Considering its exemplary performance, data protection and competitive cost, there’s simply no alternative if you want the absolute best SSD on the market when it comes to random read/write performance, and it’s not too shabby at sequential transfers either.
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