Intel took a long road to get to its SSD DC S3700
Recent announcement of the SSD DC S3700, Intel is firmly targeting enterprise customers.
Intel took a long and winding road to get to its SSD DC S3700. When the company launched its X25-E almost 4 years ago, its outperformed pretty much everything on the market. A home-grown 3 Gb/s controller, 50 nm SLC NAND, unprecedented write endurance, and amazingly consistent performance were all cutting-edge at the time. To this day, the X25-E remains one of our favorite enterprise drives.
Available capacities were small, though, and the drive was extremely expensive throughout its life. Of course, that didn’t matter to many of the companies that bought X25-Es, since performance and reliability compared to the competition were outstanding. That advantage was attributable to the fact that Intel not.
Although its performance was close to that achieved by the venerable X25-E, the SSD 710 surfaced at a time when 6 Gb/s drives were the norm, so its results came across fairly underwhelming. It simply didn’t have any other controller options to fall back on. But once it leaned on those other vendors, no amount of firmware tweaking was enough to distinguish its product from other companies using the same ASICs.
And while the SSD 710’s HET-MLC flash offered a good compromise between performance, capacity, and endurance, the NAND technology was too expensive. As a result, Intel’s enterprise follow-up didn’t really differentiate itself in a segment that had become increasingly competitive. The company needed to start over, go back, and do what it does best: innovate.