Intel today announced a new 144 layer design for their QLC SSD products. Here at Hardcore Games the 660p SSD has been affordable and reliable with acceptable performance.
The existing 660p lineup include: 512GB, 1024GB and 2TB. The new 665p lineup include: 1024MB and 2TB.
Intel has sold several million of the 660p SSD products which have become wildly popular due to the lower prices for a given capacity. Intel has mastered mass production which is why they lead the category.
The 665p uses a PCI Express 3.0 interface which is backwards compatible. It is expected that Intel may not support PCIe 4.0 with SSD drives until 2021.
The net performance of the 665p 2TB suggests that the custom controller used by Intel is quite adequate. The read/write speeds are very well within the industry norms and the numbers speak for themselves.
- Neptune Harbour
- 3D3 QLC
- read/write 2000 MB/s
- PCIe 3.0 x4, NVMe
- <1015 bit hard error rate
- M.2 22 x 80mm
- 600 TBW endurance
The improved dynamic SLC cache is substantially better with the 665p. WIth a 14% cache there is room for the swap file in addition to handling general read and write operations.
Concerns about write endurance are misguided. The controller has wear levelling and the real wear capability is more than adequate for even server use. Gaming is not so demanding. Write endurance is generally better with higher capacity models for a given series.
The Intel 96-layer QLC NAND Flash is entering mass production in Q4 2019. The first consumer product to use that will be the Intel SSD 665p series at a later date. This should allow Intel to reduce the price per TB by 50% over the 64-layer 660p series.
The Intel floating gate cell design is intended to achieve higher density and so far the success has been excellent with the consumer market.
By comparison Samsung has a 96-layer TLC design, Intel has been able to show that their SSD designs are more cost effective and they are holding onto a leadership position in the budget sensitive consumer market. Samsung SSD products are more expensive.
Intel is working on a new design with 5 bit per cell which will boost density considerably. Expectations are good that Intel can achieve this new boost in capacity which will bring even lower costs to consumers.
Eventually it should be possible to achieve 8 bit per cell but a redesign may be needed to reach that level. Some work with shallow trench designs have met with some success.
The 665p SSD should be in stores early in 2020 and its about then that the existing storage issues here should be finally resolved for a while.
SSD BULK STORAGE
M.2 and SATA SSD drives have become capacious enough to consider them as bulk storage. The lower cost of the 665p SSD will largely push hard disks out of the laptop market altogether.
SATA SSD products span up to 8TB in a 2½” 7mm format. Corporate 2½” units tend to be 15mm which now reach 30TB. Both fit modern ATX chassis well but the cost can be brutal.
Intel also mentioned the Optane lineup but existing motherboards are so short on PCIe lanes that support is very limited. AM4 was designed for SSD only and not much thought went into Optane at all. Using a DDR style slot is one idea to integrate Optane but again it would require a major redesign.
The MSI X470 Gaming Plus has a PCIe x4 slot at the bottom which can use an Optane unit. Intel makes Optane in a variety of formats. The card has the advantage of a lot more space for chips to be placed. Optane has not seen the rapid capacity growth Intel suggested when they first launched the technology some 5 years ago. SSD capacity has exploded with the stacked design.
The road ahead suggests Kingston, who sells vast numbers of SATA SSD products, has sold over 13 million units in the first 6 months of 2019. Clearly a lot of hard disks are being yanked. Kingston, Micron, Tigo and WD compete in the SATA market. Intel and Samsung are competing with the NVMe M.2 market. A the PC industry modernizes the growth in SSD has dominated choices.