A little over a year ago, Intel turned a lot of heads when it launched its DC S3700 solid-state drives. The S3700 (and follow-up S3500) featured a completely new controller developed in-house by Intel with one primary goal: Very low access latency while maintaining strict performance consistency. It was a complete changeup from Intel’s past controllers and others on the market, but unfortunately for enthusiasts both models launched purely with the enterprise & server markets in mind. Today that is no longer the case.
The Intel 730 Series utilizes the same controller as the S3700 but with a 50% higher clockspeed of 600MHz. The NAND also gets the overclock treatment and runs at 100MHz instead of the default 83MHz. Not just any NAND can do this; Intel is reportedly sourcing the 730’s NAND from the same special quality bin reserved for its datacenter SSDs to make these clocks possible. These are factory overclocks on Intel’s high endurance bin NAND, and to make things even sweeter Intel is sticking to its traditional 5-year warranty for its flagship consumer model.
In addition to the unique design of the controller, one other enterprise feature retained on the 730 model will be built-in capacitors to ensure all data in-flight can be written to the NAND in the event of a power loss. Consumers have been clamoring for this feature for years, and given the hundreds of megabytes of data that can be in flight at any given time I am personally excited to see this feature at last delivered in a consumer model SSD.
|Intel 730 Series Solid-State Drives|
|Sequential Read||550 MB/s||550 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||270 MB/s||470 MB/s|
|4K Random Read||86,000 IOPS||89,000 IOPS|
|4K Random Write||56,000 IOPS||74,000 IOPS|
|Endurance Rating||50GB/day (91TB Total)||70GB/day (128TB Total)|
|NAND||Intel ONFI 2.1 20nm|
|Interface||SATA 3.0 (6Gbps)|
Intel has announced that pre-orders are available now, but 730 Series drives won’t actually begin shipping until March 13th. Launch pricing will start at the $1 per GB mark with $249 and $489 for the 240GB and 480GB models, respectively. By comparison, today the S3500 remains around $1.25 per GB with a much lower 4K random write IOPS rating. One thing is for sure, Intel’s 730 Series will be welcome competition to the high-end consumer SSD market.