Intel Optane SSD 900P Review: The Fastest, Most Responsive SSD Yet

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Intel Optane SSD 900P - All You Need To Know

Intel gave us a taste of what its Optane could do on consumer desktop systems a few months back when it launched its Optane Memory technology. Those miniscule drives did a great job caching data to give compatible systems packing slower hard drives a huge boost in responsiveness and overall performance. The performance characteristics of Optane Memory also left many enthusiasts chomping at the bit for higher-capacity, speedier Optane SSDs for high-end desktops, however. Fortunately, the wait is now over. Intel recently launched the brand-new Optane SSD 900P series of drives and we can with certainty say that it was absolutely worth the wait.

We’ve got one of Intel’s 280GB Optane SSD 900P solid state drives in house and have the full scoop laid out for you on the pages ahead. Before we get to the nitty-gritty, though, take a look at the specs and the drive itself, and then we’ll explain what makes Optane so special and why the 3D Xpoint memory at the heart of the drives is a truly disruptive technology...
optane 900p angle
Intel Optane SSD 900P
Specifications & Features
Model Name Intel Optane SSD 900P Series
Capacity Half Height Half Length Add-in-Card: 280GB and 480GB
2.5” X 15mm, Small Form Factor U.2: 280GB
Memory Media 3D XPoint memory media
Bandwidth: Sustained Sequential R / W Up to 2500/2000 MB/s
Read /Write Latency <10 μs /< 10 μs
Random I/O Ops: 4KB Random R / W Up to 550,000 / 500,000 IOPs
Interface PCIe 3.0 X4, NVMe
Form Factor, Height and Weight HHHL AIC (68.9mm / 17.2mm / 168mm up to 230 grams)
2.5” U.2 (15mm / 70mm / 101mm / up to 140 grams)
Life Expectancy 1.6 million hours Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF)
Lifetime Endurance 10 Drive Writes per Day (DWPD)
Power Consumption Typical Active Read – Average Power: 8W
Active Write – Average Power: 13W
Burst Power: 14W
Idle: 5W
Operating Temperature 0° C to 70° C
Price 280GB: $389, 480GB: $599 - Find Them At Amazon

The Intel Optane SSD 900p will initially be offered in two capacities and form factors. Add-in, PCIe-based Optane SSD 900P cards will be available in 280GB and 480GB capacities, and a 280GB U.2 2.5” drive is coming as well.
optane 900p front
If you quickly gloss over the specifications listed above, you may miss what makes these drives special. Their sustained read/write bandwidth in the 2.5GB/s – 2GB/s range doesn’t stand out versus other high-end NVMe NAND-based solid state drives. Optane’s read/write latency, however, is significantly faster at <10μs. Random 4K I/Os are very strong as well, especially when you consider these specifications are quoted at low queue depths. Intel Optane drives also have other-worldly endurance rating and 10 full drive writes per day, for 5 years. We’re talking thousands of Petabytes for both capacities.
optane 900p back
The PCIe Express add-in Optane SSD 900P is reminiscent of Intel’s previous-gen solid state drives. It features a half-height PCB (68.9mm / 17.2mm / 168mm), with smooth heatplate on the back and raised-fin heatsink on the front. The case bracket is vented to allow for some air-flow over the heatsink, but the card does not have a fan of its own, and relies on air-flow within a chassis to remain cool. In practice, when tested within a chassis, we found the 900P to get relatively warm to the touch, but not "hot" per se in a standard mid-tower, with nothing but a couple of intake/exhaust fans.

The Intel Optane SSD 900P features an Intel-built, multi-channel (7 channel) controller architected and tuned for the 3D Xpoint media at the heart of the drive, similar to what’s used on the enterprise-class DC P4800X. All told, the drive has a max power rating of 14W (burst), but idle power and active read power are only 5W and 8W, respectively.
optane 900p 25 top
optane 900p 25 back

The 2.5” U.2 Optane SSD 900P (15mm / 70mm / 101mm) is essentially identical to the PCIe-based add-in card in terms of its specifications. The internal PCB is obviously rearranged to fit the smaller form factor, and it connects to a system differently, but other than that the drives are identical. The U.2 900P’s enclosure is smooth on top, but it outfitted with heatsink fins on the bottom, to help dissipate heat.

Before we get to the numbers, let’s re-cap what makes Intel’s Optane drives and 3D Xpoint memory so innovative...

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