Intel is trying to encourage data-center operators to embrace its latest-generation solid-state disk drive (SSD), the Intel SSD DC S3700 series, in a decidedly old-fashioned way: by slashing prices from the prior generation. The company also argues that the new hardware dramatically boosts performance to go along with its new 1.8-inch form factor (the latter a plus for space-constrained environments). Naturally, the new SSDs are being positioned as a replacement to traditional disk drives as the data center, either in caching applications or as actual replacements to magnetic storage in certain applications. Intel rates the new drive at 4KB random read performance of up to 75,000 IOPS and 4KB write performance of up to 36,000 IOPS, with a typical sequential write latency of 65 microseconds. The 910 rates substantially higher, at 180,000 4K random read IOPS and 75,000 4K random write IOPS. But it’s also a substantial jump from the 710 series, announced in Sept. 2011: those drives, available in 100-, 200-, and 300-Gbyte capacities, offered just 38,500 random 4K read IOPS against 4,000 write IOPS. Although SSDs have had a reputation of being pricey as high-performance storage options, Intel has made great strides in pricing over the course of the last year. Pricing for the Intel 910 Series data center SSD, which Intel launched in April 2012, is $1,929 for the 400GB capacity and $3,859 for 800GB. With the latest DC 3700 series, Intel charges $235 for the 100 GB SSD, $470 for 200GB, $940 for 400GB, and $1,880 for 800GB based on 1,000-unit quantities. The 1.8-inch drive MSRP pricing is $495 for the 200GB capacity and $965 for 400GB, Intel said. "Today's data explosion creates unique storage challenges for data center professionals," Rob Crooke, Intel vice president and general manager for the Intel Non-Volatile Memory (NVM) Solutions Group, wrote in a statement. "High latencies and slow storage I/O can cripple data centers' ability to deliver exciting big data or cloud-computing applications with fast, low latency data access. Intel's next-generation Intel SSD DC S3700 Series breaks through SSD limitations for the data center on all fronts—fast, consistent performance, strong data protection and high endurance—so IT professionals can deliver on their most demanding technology initiatives." Like other Intel SSDs before it, the S3700 series includes Intel’s High Endurance Technology, which combines management and silicon enhancements to extend the drive life to 10 full drive writes per day over the 5-year life of the drive. (Intel’s warranty also protects it for five years.) Full end-to-end data protection and 256-bit AES encryption capability is also included.   Image: Intel