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Flashy Intel flash specs leak

Uh oh, Powerpoint all over the floor

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Specs of Intel's super flash SSD710 and 720 solid state drives have been leaked by Computerbase.de – and they look mighty meaty, matey.

Intel is well on the way to transitioning its X18 and X25 SSDs to 3XX and 5XX devices with announcements in January and March this year.

A leaked PowerPoint chart mentioned Lyndonville and other future Intel SSDs earlier this year. Now 7XX series drives have surfaced: the 710 or Lyndonville and the faster 720 or Ramsdale. They don't get up to Intel's IMFT partner Micron's P320h speeds but the 720 is impressive for a 2.5-inch form factor SSD, albeit with a PCIe interface.

Intel 710 and 720 SD specs

Intel 710 and 720 SSD specifications

The table above shows the main specifications and we can see that the 25nm HET (high endurance technology) multi-level cell (MLC) 710 is not that impressive. Its random read IOPS number is 36,000 which is not much an increase at all on the 35,000 recorded by Intel's X25-M. The random write number for the 710 – 2,400 – is frankly poor, especially when compared to the X25-M's 6,600-8,600. Its sequential read and write numbers are better than the X25-M though, 270 and 210MB/sec for the 710 with the X25-M rated at 250MB/sec and 70-100MB/sec.

Oddly the 710's sequential read and write performance (270 and 210MB/sec) is worse than the 510 (500 and 315MB/sec), which, in a weird reverse form of symmetry, has less good read and write IOPS numbers (20,000 and 8,000) than the 710. That will make for interesting positioning. We might almost think it has been designed down to a performance spec but the designers can't do that as accurately as they might wish.

Even more oddly, the 710 on the leaked EnGadget PowerPoint slide is shown as an X25-E refresh device, yet it uses slow MLC MNAND and its performance is not that good.

We don't know what the 710's pricing will be and the thing is expected to go into mass production this month.

The 720 is a pokey NAND beast, something of a different order with its PCIe interface and 34nm single level cell flash. It delivers 180,000 random read IOPS and 56,000 rand write IOPS, obviously being optimised, like the 710, for reading data rather than writing it. The sequential or streaming I/O performance is pretty superlative; 2.2GB/sec for reads and 1.8GB/sec for sequential writes.

This is vastly faster than the old X25-E, the speed king of the X25 range, but it's not so good as Micron's PCIE flash card, the P320h, which is rated at 3GB/sec and 2GB/sec for sequential reads and writes. However it is a leading pair of performance numbers for 2.5-inch form factor SSDs.

If we view it as just another PCIe flash device then it looks to have had its performance levels deliberately designed to be lower than Micron's P320h.

The 720 is said to enter mass production this quarter and, again, there is no pricing information.

Both 7XX SSDs offer encryption: AES 128-bit for the 710 and AES 256-bit for the 720. The endurance numbers are a bit confusing, varying by SSD capacity and also, with the 710, by whether they have 20 per cent over-provisioning or not. The 720 offers up to 36PB total write data for the 200GB model (8KB random writes) while the 200GB 710 has a 1PB total written data rating, that increases to 1.3PB with 20 per cent over-provisioning.

The 710 has a 2 million hours mean time before failure rating while the 720's MBTF figure is yet to be specified. ®

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