I spotted a new unannounced product while surfing the Micron website for drivers last week. The Micron P322h jumped right off the page. We have evaluated the Micron P320h in the past, and its superb performance is delivered via a custom Micron/IDT controller and SLC NAND. The P320h delivers the ultimate in endurance and performance for PCIe SSDs, so understandably news of a P322h piques my interest. Unfortunately, 52 successive clicks confirmed the PDF was locked from view. This forced me to throw my coffee at the monitor, but after some cleanup I reached out to Micron for comment. I was informed:
The P322h is a variant of the P320h. The product is an OEM partnership with some other interesting specifics that we can't share at this time.
Frustration reigned supreme, and over the next few days I continued checking the Micron site (342 times) hoping some tidbits would become available. Soon enough the product documentation was unlocked. Micron is still mum on the details, but the document gives us some specifics and room to make educated guesses. These specifications are contained in a Micron document but aren't officially confirmed. As usual, be warned my blog may contain some wild conjecture.
The most important revelation comes from an innocent reference to the "NVM Express Specification revision 1.0b". This leads us to believe this could be Microns first NVMe SSD. The controller on the SSD is unlisted, but we do know that in the past Micron and IDT have co-developed controllers for the P320h and the P420m.
Adaptec scooped up IDT earlier this year and the Princeton NVMe controller is still making its way to market. There is a possibility the P322h features Princeton or a variant, but Micron has also indicated they are developing their own NVMe silicon in previous investor calls. The functional block diagram appears similar to the standard P320h and P420m, albeit cut back from 32 channels with 64 NAND emplacements, to 24 channels with 48 NAND emplacements.
Another interesting change is the PCIe connection design on the P322h. The P322h sports a PCIe Gen2 x4 interface, a step back from the x8 connection on the P320h. It is noted the P322h utilizes a custom Samtec LSS-120-01-DV-A-K-TR PCIe connector. This custom PCIe pinout interfaces with an OEM fibre-channel HBA daughter board. Dell and Micron have worked together on the PowerEdge servers in the past with the 2.5" P320h, but Dell recently announced the R920 series would be utilizing Samsung NVMe solutions. This doesn't eliminate the possibility of Micron SSDs in the Dell servers; but at the very least Micron has some competition. There is the notable development of new SAN designs leveraging NVMe storage devices, so there are a number of different possibilities for the P322h. Guessing at the OEM is fruitless at this point.
Another interesting development is the use of a chassis that is reminiscent of the triple-stacked PCB design we encountered on the P420m. This brings power-loss protection to the P322h and its 34nm SLC NAND. Tantalum capacitors are a welcome addition, the only drawback to the P320h is its lack of power-loss-protection.
The P322h only comes in one capacity of 530GB, but features impressive endurance specifications of 40PB for a 4k random write workload (41.3 DWPD) and an amazing 80PB for sequential workloads. Performance is impressive but takes a slight step back from the P320h, likely due to the x4 connection. 410,000/145,000 random 4k read/write IOPS is plenty for most workloads, and the P322h provides 1.7/1.2 Gb/s sequential read/write speed. The P322h features the other hallmarks of Micron SSDs, such as full data path protection, RAIN data duplicity, and an MTTF of 2 million hours.
Don't hold your breath waiting for more specifics from Micron, but we are sure some will be forthcoming in the near future. NVMe is speeding its way to us soon. Judging by the numerous Micron NVMe presentations at the Flash Memory Summit 2013 it is only a short amount of time before we see general availability of NVMe products from Micron.