Intel SSD 600P Solid State Drive Review: NVMe Performance, SATA Pricing

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Introducing The Intel SSD 600P

A couple of weeks back, Intel announced a slew of new solid state drives, targeting a wide array of market segments, that leverage 3D TLC NAND. One of those offerings was a new series of M.2 NVMe drives, dubbed the SSD 600P.

According to Intel, the SSD 600P series is “designed to deliver PCIe performance at near-SATA prices”. To date, most NVMe PCIe solid state drives are roughly 1.5 – 3x the cost per gigabyte of SATA based drives, due to the inherent performance benefits and likely the added cost of NVMe controllers. But, as the company has done a number of times in the past dating all the way back to the venerable X25, Intel is pushing hard to drive down prices in the segment. In fact, the 512GB Intel SSD 600P we’ll be showing you here today is already available at street prices below $.40 per gigabyte, which is only slightly higher than many SATA-based drives.

Leveraging 3D TLC NAND manufactured in concert with Micron is the primary factor that allowed Intel to price the 600P so aggressively. Here are some of the 600P’s main features and specifications, then we’ll follow up with a tour of the drive and performance characteristics.  
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Intel SSD 600P Series Solid State Drives
Specifications & Features
Capacity Sequential
Read (MB/s)
Sequential
Write (MB/s)
Random
Read (IOPS)
Random
Write (IOPS)
Form Factor
PCIe 3 x4

128 GB 770 450 35,000 91,000 M.2
256 GB 1,570 540 71,000 112,000 M.2
512 GB 1,775 560 128,500 128,000 M.2
1024 GB 1,800 560 155,000 128,000 M.2
All densities of Intel's SSD 600P now available at Amazon starting at $79.99

The Intel SSD 600P will initially be offered in four capacities, 128GB on up to 1TB. All of the drives conform to the same M.2 (2280) 80mm ‘gumstick’ form factor, but performance varies depending on the capacity. The 128GB drive can offer up to 770MB/s reads and 450MB/s writes, while the 1TB drive peaks at 1.8GB/s reads, with 560MB/s writes. That kind of performance is far better than anything hanging off a SATA interface can muster, but it is not in the same class as more expensive NVMe PCIe-based drives like Intel's own SSD 750 series, Samsung's 950 Pro, or the Toshiba OCZ RD400.
intel 600p 2
As we've mentioned, all of the drives in the series leverage IMFT 3D TLC NAND flash memory, which is considerably more affordable than higher-price MLC NAND. Paired to the NAND is an DRAM cache, and a native NVMe PCI Express controller built by Silicon Motion (SMI), with input from Intel. If you look closely, you can actually see an Intel logo silk-screened onto the chip. You'll notice there's not much happening on the back of the drive, but the front is home to the controller, NAND, and DRAM cache.
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The controller conforms to the NVMe 1.1 spec and has a x4 PCIe 3.0 interface (max bandwidth of 4GB/s). The drives also support all of the things you’d expect from a modern SSD, like TRIM, garbage collection, S.M.A.R.T., etc. Like some other drives that use TLC NAND, Intel configures a portion to act as an SLC cache. Depending on the capacity, however, the size of the cache will vary. The single die capacity on the 600P series is 48GB, and cache capacities rang from 4GB on the 128GB drive up to 32GB on the 1TB drive. The 256GB drive's SLC cache is 8.5GB and the 512GB drive you see here has 17.5GB provisioned for SLC cache duties.
intel 600p bundle
Intel warranties the SSD 600P series drives for 5 years, which is on par with other NVMe PCIe solid state drives. In terms of the packaging and bundle, everything included is pictured above -- you get the drive, some basic documentation, and that's about it. Support for the 600P series is coming to Intel's SSD Toolbox utility, but as of press time, it hasn't been enabled just yet.
Tags:  Intel, SSD, NAND, solid state, nvme

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