The Micron 5210 Ion is a product that defines a segment in the market. We've seen enterprise SSDs in the read intensive category before but none or very few that scale to 7.68TB. The largest capacity 5210 Ion is really in a class of its own right now. Micron has some competition at the 1.92 and 3.84TB capacities if you want to get in the weeds and say there are products that exist alone. Micron's ability to utilize 4-bit per cell memory in a world still dominated by more expensive 3-bit per cell memory brings a serious pricing advantage. This is the 5210 Ion's advantage comes from because no other enterprise SSD dips low enough in cost to become so competitive with datacenter disk drives.
We talked about workloads through the article but didn't look closely at the applications. A number of applications use ideal access patterns for this series. Most of these involve data written to the drive and then read from storage several times. This doesn't mean cold storage per se. The data can be active, but it stays in place.
There are obvious endurance issues with 4-bit per cell flash in some environments and that is why Micron did a good job of explaining drive writes per day. What we didn't see is endurance for hard disk drives. SSDs use the drive writes per day model because reads have such a small impact on SSDs. That is not the case for hard disk drives. HDDs use a drive read write per day or DRWPD endurance rating.
The Seagate IronWolf Pro we used for testing today features a 300 TB per year endurance or 1,500 TB over the 5-year life of the drive. This rating encompasses both reads and writes. The 7.68TB 5210 Ion delivers 11,210 TB data writes alone before we even account for the data reads.
A number of factors weigh in on total cost of ownership for the Micron 5210 Ion series. Power consumption favors the Ion over disk drives but so does the amount of work you can complete over time.
Flash reduces latency per IO and allows this series to breeze though tasks. Colfax Research demonstrated in a TensorFlow test that the 5210 Ion could shave 13.3 hours off a workload task. This was an 8x time decrease over a similar array with 7,200 RPM HDDs. We are working on building a similar test in the lab now. This should come as a surprise. System administrators have learned over the last decade that flash always trumps mechanical storage in performance. The 5210 Ion difference comes down to the most basic requirement system administrators must account for, the cost.
By leveraging 4-bit per cell memory, Micron managed to push mechanical drive technology one-step closer to the ledge. Flash continues to gain ground on traditional disk drive technology, and this marks another workload where SSDs simple deliver a better value.
The Bottom Line
Micron's 5210 Ion delivers the performance of flash at mechanical drive prices. This series will deliver lasting endurance under read intensive workloads.