Solid-state drives taking advantage of the PCI Express (PCIe) interface have seen a resurgence recently. While PCIe-based SSDs have been available for desktop PCs for some time, manufacturers focused more on cheaper (but slower) SATA-based solid-state storage. But as drive makers want to boost transfer speeds, they took a fresh look at PCIe, which offers more bandwidth for data reads and writes.
Crucial to the renaissance is Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe), a standard that helps reduce latency in the I/O stack. Samsung has been an early mover in the space, releasing NVMe PCIe drives for enterprise servers, for instance. Now one of the other developers of the NVMe standard, Intel, is joining the party with its new Solid State Drive (SSD) 750 family, which the chip giant claims is its highest-performing desktop SSD to date.
The new drives are available either in a 2.5-inch format or as a half-height expansion card in 400GB or 1.2TB capacities, though both form factors take advantage of four lanes of PCIe 3.0 to deliver superior performance. You will get slightly faster speeds with the add-in card, however: 2,400MB/s sequential reads compared to 2,200MB/s and 1,200MB/s sequential writes versus 900MB/s (either way a far cry from the SATA-based SSD 730 predecessor). Intel claims performance that's greater than four times that from SATA-based SSDs. Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) is estimated at 1.2 million hours, and the drives are able to handle 70GB of daily writes.
You'll certainly pay more for the superior performance, though you'll also receive more capacity than the budget-friendly SATA SSDs. Pre-order pricing for the 400GB version is $470 and a cool $1,200 for the 1.2TB drive. Newegg lists the drives as becoming available on April 24.
For those looking for something a little kinder to their wallets, Intel is also launching the SSD 535 family. The SATA-based drives will come in 2.5-inch and M.2 form factors and in a variety of capacities, ranging from 120GB to 480GB (though the M.2 version will top out at 320GB). Sequential read speeds max out at 540MB/s and write speeds of 490MB/s. Pricing for SSD 535 drives will be far more modest, according to MaximumPC: $116 (120GB), $138 (180GB), $168 (240GB), $236 (360GB) and $301 (480GB).