16-nm NAND infiltrates Intel's latest server SSD

After refreshing its mid-range and high-end server SSDs with updated controllers and 20-nm NAND earlier this year, Intel has now turned its attention to the entry-level tier. The new DC S3510 massages the formula introduced with the S3500, and like January's updates, subtle tweaks to the SATA-based controller appear to be part of the package. More interestingly, the S3510 eschews 20-nm NAND in favor of chips built on an even finer 16-nm process.

The datasheet confirms the flash has an MLC configuration with two bits per cell, but it's mum on the manufacturer. Odds are the chips come from Micron, which has long collaborated with Intel on flash production.

The flash is identified as standard-endurance stock, with endurance rated at 0.3 drive writes per day over five years. That's one tenth the endurance of the mid-range S3610 and well shy of the 10 writes per day boasted by the high-end S3710. No wonder Intel says the entry-level model is ideal for read-intensive workloads.

Capacities start at 80GB and range up to 1.6TB, with fewer intermediary capacities than in the S3500 family . The sequential specs are the same as for the last generation: 500MB/s for reads and 460MB/s for writes. Random I/O rates have increased to 68k/20k IOps, though. The higher-end drives can do better on both fronts, but not by much compared to the endurance differences.

Unlike Intel's other datacenter SSDs, the S3510 is limited to a 2.5" SATA form factor. It's not selling online yet, but I'd expect the eventual street prices to mirror those of the S3500, which is available at Newegg for under a buck a gig. Although that's pricey in the context of consumer-grade SSDs, it's actually a pretty good deal for a server-grade drive with end-to-end data protection, circuitry to compensate for unexpected power loss, and Intel's excellent reliability reputation.

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