Tuesday, August 8th 2017

Intel Intros 660p Series M.2 NVMe SSDs with QLC NAND Flash

Intel Tuesday introduced the new SSD 660p series M.2 NVMe solid state drives. At the heart of these drives is the new 64-layer 3D QLC (quadruple level cell, or 4 bits per cell) NAND flash memory by IMFlash Technology (an Intel and Micron joint-venture). This memory is mated with a SIlicon Motion SMI 2263 controller. This chip is a derivative of the popular SMI2262EN, built on a newer process, with support for QLC NAND flash, compacted to have a smaller PCB footprint, and is driven by a custom firmware by Intel. The drives use over 10% of the QLC NAND flash area as SLC cache. The 660p series comes in three variants based on size - 512 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB. The prices are the biggest dividend of QLC: the 512 GB variant goes for USD $99.99, the 1 TB variant at $199.99, and the 2 TB variant for $399.99.

Built in the M.2-2280 form-factor, the SSD 660p series drives feature PCI-Express 3.0 x4 interface. Intel's pricing puts these drives close to competing drives with PCIe x2 interface, but offering higher transfer rates thanks to the wider bus. It's also interesting to note here that the controller is cushioned by a DRAM cache (something PCIe x2 drives tend to lack, to keep costs down). Performance numbers differ by variant, and the 512 GB drive is the slowest, sequentially reading at speeds of up to 1500 MB/s, with up to 1000 MB/s sequential writes; up to 90,000 4K random reads, and up to 220,000 IOPS 4K random writes. The 1 TB and 2 TB variants both sequentially read and write at up to 1800 MB/s. The 1 TB variant offers 150,000 IOPS 4K random reads, and up to 220,000 IOPS random writes; while the 2 TB variant has 4K random reads/writes numbers of 220,000 IOPS.
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7 Comments on Intel Intros 660p Series M.2 NVMe SSDs with QLC NAND Flash

#1
Tsukiyomi91
512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD for $100 is quite a steal IMO... Sure the speeds aren't that blistering but the price will make it very compelling for folks who wanted an upgrade.
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#2
londiste
I have a feeling prices might not be quite right for this one. QLC is still unproven in terms of real-life endurance and despite 660p having performance fitting NVMe drive, TLC SATA (both 2.5" and M.2) drives of thge same size are available for less.
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#4
UrbanCamper
Yup looks like a great deal. Already at the egg. Trying to find out if single or double sided. Went to Intel and it does not show the back. Same at the egg. If single probably a good idea to slap a heatsink on it. The 600 is single sided, so the 660p most likely is the same I am guessing. Standard operating temp of up to 70c before throttling. Oh the AnandTech article answered the question. Thanks Swede.

Well there goes the monthly budget. Have always wanted an M2 3x4 drive. Picked up the 512 just now. Even though it's not the fastest out their, for 99 dollars I could not pass it up.
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#5
Blueberries
...and (not-so-smart) people will still buy HDDs.
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#6
Minus Infinity
Yikes, the slow down in the 660p performance when the drives are getting full is horrific. 16 voltage levels is just too much, I won't be buying any QLC drives until they've been proven reliable for several years.
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#7
UrbanCamper
I understand that this m2 3.0x4 drive is slower then many. I decided to test the speed vs my crucial m2 ssd. Here are results. The one on the left is the m2 3.0x4 and the Crucial on the right.

They both cost 99 dollars. Write time is a tad slower then advertised. However read time is almost 200mb higher then advertised. Pretty good deal. Three time the read speed and twice the write speed. Approximately.
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