Building up from the success of its consumer and enterprise SSD offerings, Intel is now targeting high performance data centers with the release of its first PCIe based storage product, the Intel SSD 910. The new drives offer lower read and write latency compared to their SATA III (6Gbps) connected products, while delivering around 7X the read performance of the Intel SSD 710 and 5X the write speed.

The 910 series is available in a half-length, half-height PCIe format with either 400GB or 800GB of storage capacity, net of over-provisioning. The 400GB model consists of two stacked boards, one with control and interface logic and another with two flash modules, while the 800GB model adds a second flash board. Both use high endurance technology (HET) 25nm MLC NAND flash to provide extended use-life.

According to Intel's spec sheet, the 400GB model can achieve sequential reads of up to 1000MB/s and sequential writes of up to 750MB/s, with random 4K read and write ratings of 90,000 IOPS and 38,000 IOPS, respectively. The 800GB unit is even more impressive with up to 2000MB/s and 1000MB/s sequential read and write speeds, as well as 180,000 IOPS and 75,000 IOPS for random 4K reads and writes.

In terms of power consumption, the Intel SSD 910 uses less than 25W while active, and 8-12W in idle mode. That said, the 910 will ship with a software tool that allows you to get even more performance (up to 1.5GB/s write speed) by increasing the board's operating power from 25W to 28W.

RAID support is offered by software instead of hardware, which further increases compatibility across multiple platforms. A side effect of this is that the SSD 910 is non-bootable, but that won't be much of an issue as companies can deploy a server using a more affordable SATA SSD for the OS and leave the more demanding duties to the PCIe drive. Perhaps the one turn off is that the 910 doesn't support hardware encryption.

Pricing for the Intel SSD 910 Series is $1,929 for the 400GB capacity and $3,859 for 800GB, quite competitive next to the Fusion-io ioDrive2 and OCZ Z-Drive R4. The SSD 910 comes with a 5-year limited warranty.