Intel DC S3700 Details
If you were expecting these drives to look a bit different from your usual SSD, you won’t be disappointed. First of all, these are 7mm drives, and are available in 2.5″ and 1.8″ form factors (though the latter is only available in 100GB and 200GB capacities while the former adds 400GB and 800GB). Since there is no way they are intended to be sold for use in a portable system, a 9.5mm ‘bumper’ is not necessary to accommodate installation in normal laptop enclosures.
Design-wise, the DC S3700 follows the same aesthetic as Intel’s consumer drives – which weren’t exactly elaborately designed to begin with.
This continues to the bottom of the drives, which use the same untreated metal we have become accustomed to seeing on Intel’s SSDs over the years. I’ll just go ahead and say it – it’s ugly. But it really doesn’t matter, especially with enterprise products like these.
Taking the drive apart, we see that the PCB is held in place by plastic spacers rather than being attached to the enclosure itself. The enclosure’s surface is coated in 3M tape, to prevent shorting and allow the heat to transfer to the enclosure which works as a heatsink.
As you can guess, these drives pack a lot of chips inside. The 800GB model carries eight flash chips on each side of the PCB. These are IMFT 29F64B08PCMEI MET NAND chips, each with a capacity of 64GB. This brings the total capacity to 1024GB. This means that 224GB is used for over-provisioning and other things – that’s about the same capacity as most consumer drives themselves!
The 200GB version contains an interesting assortment of different sized flash chips to bring the total to 264GB.
On one side, we have seven 29F16B16MCMEI chips (16GB) and a single 29F32B16NCMEI (32GB). On the other side are seven more 16GB chips, and a single 29F64G08LCMEI (8GB). This brings the total flash installed to 264GB, meaning 64GB is used for over-provisioning and other tasks. Percentage-wise, the smaller drive actually has more extra capacity.
As if all that extra flash wasn’t enough, how about some DRAM to go along with it? The 800GB model comes loaded with 1GB of DDR3-1600 Samsung DRAM, while our 200GB drive has 256GB DDR3-1600 from Micron. User data is never stored here – it is only used for caching the main processor’s functions.
Speaking of the main processor, here is a close up look at the first true next gen Intel SSD controller in years:
Like everything else on the drive, the controller is BGA mounted. This is what allows such a monster drive specs-wise to be so slim.
One other interesting feature you may have spotted are these 35V 47µF capacitors attached to the PCB:
Capacitors like these are common with enterprise drives, and are what allow the drive to support write buffering fully. When power is cut off, any leftover data is written to the flash immediately, preventing data loss. While you may still enable write buffering with most drives, you would lose any buffered data in the case of power loss. This isn’t an issue with drives such as the DC S3700.
Now that we are well acquainted with the DC S3700 drives, we can get back to performance!