Today's datacenter is being overwhelmed by large quantities of data. Traditional spinning media cannot keep up with this data deluge. Spinning media is no longer cost effective or powerful enough to keep up with the IO demand generated in the modern era. The enormous physical footprint required for spinning media capable of generating the IOs required by today's demanding workloads is by itself enough to assure its extinction in the near future.
The time is now to revolutionize the datacenter with flash, because as Micron's mantra "Spinning Media Is Winding Down" suggests, spinning media is well on its way to the dustbin of history. This mantra is a statement of fact, and Micron stands ready to deliver the all-flash solutions required for an efficient, modern datacenter.
In the datacenter, TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) is without question the most important procurement consideration. Flash-based storage, while initially more expensive, is so much more powerful, reliable and efficient than spinning media that it is easy to see why the days are numbered for mechanical storage. A simple TCO comparison illustrates this fact perfectly:
As the above graphic illustrates, in an all-random read environment, a 22-drive Micron 5100 ECO array outperforms a 240-drive 10K HDD array by 20X with 91% fewer drives. Additionally, over the span of five years, the 5100 ECO array has a 66% lower TCO than a 240-drive 10K HDD array. In this scenario, matching the IO performance of a 22-drive ECO array utilizing spinning media would require 4,800 10K HDD's. When you take into consideration the physical footprint, additional hardware, and power required to operate 4,800 HDDs, the advantages of an all-flash array become crystal clear.
Micron's 5100 series SSDs are available in three models (ECO, PRO, and MAX) and two form-factors; 2.5" cased and M.2 2280. The 5100 ECO is designed for read-intensive applications. The 5100 PRO is designed for latency-sensitive database applications. The 5100 MAX is designed for write-intensive applications.
Micron lists the key benefits of their 5100 Series SSDs as follows:
- High Capacity: Consolidate storage platforms and smooth migration from legacy storage. The 5100's ability to offer up to 8TB of storage in a 2.5-inch form factor and 2TB in an M.2 provides a wide range of solutions.
- Consistent High Performance: Meet the demands of your data center. The 5100 comes in three models optimized for varying workloads with consistent, steady state random writes at up to 74,000 IOPS.
- Comprehensive Security: Alleviate enterprise security concerns with built-in AES-256-bit encryption and TCG Enterprise protection with available FIPS 140-2 validation.
- Ultimate Flexibility: Actively tune capacity to optimize drive performance and endurance with Micron's FlexPro™ firmware architecture.
- Outstanding Reliability: Reduce downtime and latency with 99.999% quality of service (QoS) that is unmatched compared to spinning media.
Looking at the 5100 Series feature set, there are two things that jump out at us right away:
1) Tunable capacity at the hardware level.
2) Up to 74,000 4K random write IOPS in a steady-state.
The ability to actively tune capacity at the hardware level via Micron's FlexPro architecture means that the ECO or Pro can effectively be repurposed to deliver write performance and endurance equivalent to the MAX or anything in between. It is even possible to increase the endurance of the MAX if desired. Micron calls this feature FlexCap. The FlexCap feature is part of Micron's newest version of their Storage Executive SSD software. We will demonstrate the versatility that FlexCap brings to the table further on in this review.
At up to 74,000 4K random write IOPS in a steady-state, the 5100 MAX is reaching a level of random write performance never before seen from a SATA SSD. What makes this even more incredible is fact that this level of random write performance is coming from a 3-bit (TLC) flash array. The key to the incredible random write performance delivered by the PRO and MAX models is a large to massive dose of over-provisioning. Here is a breakdown and explanation of the factory overprovisioning implemented on the 5100 Series as given by Micron:
Micron is able to fortify their enterprise SSDs with the most OP of any manufacturer for two reasons. Number one they own the NAND flash fab. Number two is the fact that Micron flash is more cost effective than others. When it comes to steady-state performance, the more over-provisioning allocated at the hardware level, the better the drive will perform when writing random data.
To this point, Micron has three lines of 3D TLC SSDs in their portfolio. On the consumer side, Crucial's highly successful MX300. On the OEM or client side, the Micron 1100 series and now on the enterprise side the Micron 5100 series. All three are similar to one another; all three are utilizing Micron's first generation 384Gb, 32-layer 3D TLC flash, and Marvell's versatile fifth-generation 88SS1074 four-channel SSD controller. Marvell controllers are provided without firmware. This requires buyers of Marvell controllers to create customized in-house firmware for the controller, which is the reason you will not find Marvell controlled SSDs coming from smaller vendors.
The Crucial MX300 and Micron 1100 series employ consumer-grade 3D TLC NAND flash; the Micron 5100 Series utilizes enterprise-grade 3D TLC, or 3D eTLC NAND flash providing better performance and endurance. Further differentiating the 5100 from consumer versions is the absence of an SLC caching layer to mask write performance. In a steady-state environment, SLC caching hurts overall performance. Additionally, the 5100 series has onboard host power-loss protection.
We are anxious to see for ourselves if the 5100 MAX can deliver an earth-shattering 74,000 4K random write IOPS in a steady-state, so let's dive in and find out.
The Micron 5100 ECO 1920GB SATA III SSD we have on the bench today sports the following hardware and steady-state performance specifications:
4K Random Read/Write = 93K/24K. Sequential Read/Write = 540/520 MB/s. Power consumption = 5W Active/2.5W idle. Controller = Marvell 88SS1074 four-channel. NAND = Micron 3D 3bit eTLC. Data DRAM Cache = 2GB. Onboard Host Power-loss Protection = Yes. Warranty = 3.2 PBW or as specified by your Micron Representative.
The Micron 5100 MAX 960GB SATA III SSD we have on the bench today sports the following hardware and steady-state performance specifications:
4K Random Read/Write = 93K/74K. Sequential Read/Write = 540/520 MB/s. Power consumption = 5W Active/2.5W idle. Controller = Marvell 88SS1074 four-channel. NAND = Micron 3D 3bit eTLC. Data DRAM Cache = 1GB. Onboard Host Power-loss Protection = Yes. Warranty = 8.8 PBW or as specified by your Micron Representative.
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