A SQL Server Hardware Tidbit a Day – Day 17

For Day 17 of this series, I am going to talk about the Intel DC S3700 series of 6Gbps MLC SATA SSDs. The DC S3700 series is available in 100GB, 200GB, 400GB, and 800GB capacities. The DC S3700 uses 25nm HET-MLC NAND technology, which means that you get higher write endurance than standard MLC consumer drives.  This drive is rated at 500MB/sec for sequential reads and 460MB/sec for sequential writes. It is also rated at 75,000 IOPs for 4K random reads and 36,000 IOPS for 4K random writes.

The DC S3700 series is a 6Gbps MLC SATA device, so it is limited to less than 600MB/sec of sequential throughput due to the SATA III interface. SATA devices do not perform as well as SAS devices under extremely high queue depth workloads, and they do not have the dual-port support that you get with SAS. Intel specifically engineered this line for more reliable, consistent performance than you get with normal, consumer MLC SSDs, so they are well-suited to many data center database server workloads. There are a number of detailed reviews of this series listed below.

The Intel SSD DC S3700 (200GB) Review (AnandTech)

Intel SSD DC S3700 Series Enterprise SSD Review  (Storage Review)

Intel DC S3700 Data Center SSD Review (200/800GB) (TheSSDReview)

Intel SSD DC S3700 Review: Benchmarking Consistency (Tom’s Hardware)

The suggested retail pricing for this line is very aggressive, with the 100GB model going for $235.00, the 200GB model going for $470.00, the 400GB model going for $940.00, and the 800GB model going for $1880.00. That is $2.35/GB, which is very affordable for data center-class SSDs. Since they are still in short supply, the actual street prices are currently a little higher.

NewEgg is selling the 100GB model for $249.99 , the 200GB model for $499.99, and the 400GB model for $1099.99, (but they are all currently out of stock). Those street prices prices are pretty competitive with conventional 2.5” 15K enterprise SAS drives.

I think these Intel DC S3700 drives could be very useful as boot devices in a database server. Two of them in a RAID 1 array would give you a faster boot time than 15K magnetic drives and better reliability, along with lower power usage. According to Intel, they don’t need TRIM support to avoid having deteriorating write performance over time, so they are suitable for usage with a standard hardware RAID controller. I also think they are very feasible for use for other SQL Server usage, for things like data files, log files, and tempdb files, depending on your workload.

These drives use capacitors to maintain data integrity during a power failure. Two 35V, 47 uF capacitors store enough charge to commit all data in the write cache to NAND in the event of a power failure. Intel also did a lot of work with these drives to make sure they have consistent write performance over time, without the wide variations (usually caused by garbage collection) that you see with consumer-level SSDs. From all of the benchmarks I have seen, they work as advertised.

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