Intel has just introduced their new top of the line consumer SSD, the 730. The new 2,5" SSD is based on the same controller as the Intel DC S3500 en S3700, which are both enterprise SSD's. This is why Intel is marketing the 730 as a "consumer SSD with enterprise DNA". We tested the 240 GB model supplied to us by Informatique.nl.
The new 730 SSD is based on the Intel PC29AS21CA0 controller which, as previously mentioned is also inside Intel's DC S3500 and S3700 SSD's. The S3500 is a SSD specifically designed with servers in mind, where consistent performance is of the highest priority. The S3700 is a higher end model designed for servers with very write-intensive workloads, thanks to special memory chips the S3700 is capable of sustaining 10 full drive writes per day for five years.
Intel is now implementing this same controller in a consumer SSD, but in this case combined with "standard" 20nm ONFI flash-memory. Intel is describing the 730 as a "factory overclocked SSD", the controller now operates at 600 MHz instead of 400 MHz as with the server SSD's. The NAND bus speed has also been increased from 83 MHz to 100 MHz.
Thanks to these improvements the performance of the SSD has increased compared to the previous models without affecting the lifespan, according to Intel. The 730 comes with a five year warranty in which you can write up to 70 GB per day, 127 terabyte in total.
Based on normal use, i.e. writing 10 GB a day, the SSD should, in theory, last 35 years. These claims of endurance and reliability could be a deciding factor if your planning to use the SSD in an environment where you frequently write a lot of data, such as a video editing workstation.
The PC29AS21CA0 controller uses the Serial ATA 600 interface and of course offers TRIM support. The SSD 730 is available in 240 and 480 GB versions. The 240 GB model offers sequential read speeds of up to 550 MB/s en sequential write of up to 270 MB/s.
The 480 GB version is capable of up to 470 MB/s write speeds while the maximum read speeds remains the same. The 4k random IOps, according to Intel are 86.000 read and 56.000 write for the 240 GB model and 89.000 read and 74.000 write for the 480 GB.
You can read the rest of the Intel SSD 730 240GB preview at Hardware.info.