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Micron P320h PCIe Enterprise SSD Review

With its superb performance and unbelievable endurance, Micron continues its assault on the enterprise SSD space with the Micron P320h. This SLC-driven beast features 50PB of endurance and the highest speeds available on a single PCIe slot today.

| PCIe SSDs in IT/Datacenter | Posted: Jan 8, 2013 5:22 pm
TweakTown Rating: 96%Manufacturer: Micron

Introduction

 

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The Micron RealSSD P320h HHHL Enterprise SSD is revolutionary in many aspects, both for Micron and for the broader world of enterprise SSD storage as well. The IMFT (Intel-Micron Flash Technologies) team has recently topped 20% of the NAND market as they continue a period of fast growth. Micron has leveraged this in-house NAND and DRAM production capability to take on the 2.5" SSD form-factor enterprise and consumer market by storm. Micron has enjoyed tremendous success in both of these areas and the development of the P320h is a natural progression for Micron as they delve further into the enterprise realm.

 

The Micron P320h provides a whopping 50 Petabytes of write endurance from its 34nm server grade NAND on the 700GB model (up to 28TB written daily), and 25 Petabytes of endurance on the 350GB version. The high endurance SLC NAND paired with Micron DDR3 DRAM and a custom designed Micron/IDT ASIC combine to provide sustained performance that is unmatched from any single device on a PCIe slot.

 

The offloaded architecture provided by the custom designed Micron/IDT ASIC minimizes the intrusion upon precious host system resources, while providing unmatched performance. Many vendors in this space currently handle all flash management responsibilities on the host system, robbing applications of valuable CPU cycles and RAM capacity.

 

The P320h offers a blazing 785,000 IOPS of read speed, but what is truly amazing about this metric is the simple fact that is saturating the PCIe 2.0 slot with random read activity. When converted from IOPS to gigabytes per second this is 3.2GB/s, the maximum sustainable by the PCIe 2.0 interface. The maximum sequential read speed of the P230h is also 3.2GB/s.

 

Though designed for heavy read environments, the P320h still sports an impressive 205,000 IOPS in random write, and 1.9GB/s in sequential write performance. The disproportionate read to write speed ratio is actually well suited for typical enterprise workloads, which consist of 60- 80% read activity. Striking this balance between the read and write speeds allows the P320h to be tuned and perfectly tailored for its intended environments. PCIe SSDs excel in many types of workloads, and the P320h is designed specifically for these environments. The P320h is geared for high read workload environments that demand frequent read intensive access, such as cloud computing, high-performance computing, analytics, media streaming, web acceleration, video on demand and data warehousing.

 

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There is also the very tantalizing possibility of utilizing the unique blend of read and write performance with third-party caching software solutions. Utilizing the massive speed and impressive endurance of the P320h as a front-end for caching of underlying DAS and SAN arrays can provide an exponential return on investment for customers by increasing the performance of existing infrastructure. Maximizing the storage potential brings the added bonus of increasing the CPU utilization, especially in virtualized environments. These exponential increases in ROI gained by removing the storage solution as the bottleneck can create a huge return on the initial capital expenditure.

 

The P320h features a very low overall power threshold, only consuming 25 watts. This allows the SSD to function from the power supplied via the PCIe slot without auxiliary power as demanded by some competitors. Keeping the power requirements in check results in lower costs in the long term for both power consumption and heat generation. The P320h supplies an astounding 30,000 random read IOPS per watt, a measurement that no other PCIe SSD that we have tested can match.

 

Finally, one of the greatest aspects of the Micron architecture is vertical integration. The NAND and DRAM are fabricated in-house and the custom ASIC is purpose built for Micron's use. This provides a steady platform that Micron controls in its entirety allowing for much more refined component integration and streamlined custom support in the event of an issue. All of these features combine to create the best-in-class price vs. performance ratio that the P320h provides to its customers. Today we will take a much deeper look at the architecture and performance of the Micron P320h.

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