Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/10/19/intel_pcie_nand/

Leaked Intel roadmap reveals PCIe flash kit

How the stats measure up

By Chris Mellor

Posted in Servers, 19th October 2011 11:41 GMT

Tom's Hardware has reported a leaked Intel storage roadmap that confirms a PCIe flash product is coming, as well as confirming updates across Chipzilla's three flash product families.

According to the slide:

Currently Intel has a Lyndonville 2.5-inch, 3Gbit/s SATA 700-series drive and this high-end area is going to see expansion that commits Intel to competing with PCIe flash card leader Fusion-io as well as its own partner in the IMFT flash foundry business, Micron, plus PCZ and a few other PCIe flash card hopefuls. Fusion recently introduced its second-generation PCIe cards and these look to be much faster than the previously reported random IOPS speeds for Intel's PCIe cards. The ioDrive 2 Duo, with a 1.2TB capacity using 2Xnm process SLC NAND, features 503,000/64,000 random read/write IOPS with 4KB blocks and a 3GB/s bandwidth.

Micron's P320H SLC PCIe card does 750,000/341,000 random read/write IOPS with a 3/2GB/s bandwidth for sequential read/writes. It looks as if Intel will have to up its game from the reported speeds of its PCIe cards if it wants to compete with Fusion-io and partner Micron. But that might not be in its game plan with price, performance and reliability being emphasised over sheer speed.

The Intel PCIe cards appear to be faster than STEC's base Kronos cards (110,000 random read IOPS, 1GB/sec) and slower than its Bi-Turbo (440,00 random read IOPS, 4GB/sec), and also slower than OCZ's Z-Drive R4 (410,000 random IOPS, 2.8GB/sec). Intel PCIe product would also lag behind TMS' RamSan-70 on random IOPS numbers.

OCZ has announced a Deneva 2 mSATA interface product, with capacities of up to 128GB, saying it "offers 6Gbit/s throughput rates with up to 80,000 random 4k write IOPS and 550MB/s of bandwidth". It has a second mSATA drive, the Intrepid, offering an overload of buzzword features: "Indilinx Arowana Flash Transition Layer with Hyper-Queuing, resulting in increased sequential write speeds and IOPS." Indilinx is the flash controller company OCZ bought earlier this year. These look to be Intel 300-series competition.

PCIe server flash is going to be one of the most hotly contested flash form factors next year and Intel has its work cut out if it wants to be a performance king, but it may go for volume victory, ceding the performance market to partner Micron, and hoping that its vertical integration from flash foundry to PCIe flash card will give it a winning edge. ®