Micron Intros Enterprise SSDs for Big Data Workloads

By Pedro Hernandez

Micron has its sights set on the data centers with a new batch of solid-state drives (SSDs) that the company claims makes short work of Big Data workloads.

Micron is positioning its new P400m 2.5-inch SSD as "a high-endurance SATA caching and storage solution that was designed to handle the amassing petabytes of structured and unstructured digital information." In short, the company hopes to bring disk-based levels of reliability to flash-based Big Data application acceleration and caching solutions.

"The growth in Big Data is placing tremendous pressure on IT administrators. Users require fast, on-demand access to data. This means data centers must deliver more data, faster than ever before — in an environment that has zero tolerance for data loss," said Ed Doller, VP and general manager of Micron's Enterprise SSD division, in a company statement.

Higher cost per gigabyte notwithstanding, SSDs beat hard disk drives (HDDs) with breakneck data transfer speeds and low power requirements. But one big concern continues to dog flash-based storage: reliability.

Since SSDs support a limited number of writes, data center operators have been justifiably conservative in deploying the technology. Not willing to risk incurring downtime or suffering data loss, IT managers have been generally slow to put SSDs to work in production systems.

Reliability takes a further hit as NAND flash chips scale down -- 25 nanometers (nm) in the case of the new P400m -- says Micron. The company claims that is it has largely resolved these issues with its Extended Performance and Enhanced Reliability Technology (XPERT), a combination of optimized firmware algorithms and hardware enhancements that boost an SSD's useful life.

According to the company, XPERT enables a 400 GB P400m to survive 10 complete drive fills per day for five years. Onboard power loss protection prevents data loss in the event of a power interruption. Mean time to failure is rated at two million hours.

The P400m, available in 100, 200 and 40 GB capacities, sports a 6 gigabit per second interface and packs multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash chips. The 400 GB model is capable of sequential read and write (64 KB) speeds of 350 megabytes per second and 300 megabytes per second, respectively.

Random read operations are (4 KB) rated at 55,000 IOPS while random writes clock in at 17,000 IOPS. Latencies are 0.51 ms read and 2 ms write.

All told, the P400m adds up to an SSD that is up to the rigors of Big Data, according to Doller. "Integrating flash storage into the data center is the preferred way administrators can meet these growing demands. The Micron P400m delivers the endurance, reliability, and performance critical for data center storage," he said.

Micron's P400m SSDs are in production and are now shipping to OEMs and resellers.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

This article was originally published on January 23, 2013