Micron rolls out enterprise-class SSDs

By Kevin Komiega

-- Micron Technology this week announced the next generation of its solid-state disk (SSD) drives for enterprise servers and notebook computing applications.

The new NAND-based drives, the enterprise-class RealSSD P200 and the client-focused RealSSD C200, have been designed to boost read-and-write speeds while reducing system power consumption.

The RealSSD P200 drives range in capacity from 16GB to 128GB and are available in a 2.5-inch form factor. The drives use single-level cell (SLC) NAND technology and a 3Gbps SATA interface with a maximum sequential read and write speed of up to 250MBps.

According to Dean Klein, vice president of memory system development at Micron, the enterprise-class P200 SSD is more than 10 times faster at accessing transactional data compared to traditional hard disk drives (HDDs). The P200 achieves sub-millisecond latency, while a typical enterprise HDD has an average latency of approximately eight milliseconds.

The P200 also consumes about one-tenth the power of a typical HDD, operating at 2.5 watts in active mode and less than 0.3 watts in idle mode, while HDDs typically consume anywhere between 8 to 28 watts.

The P200 provides wear-leveling capabilities across its high-performance SLC write cycles, offering a mean time between failure (MTBF) rating of approximately two million hours, according to company officials.

Micron is a relatively new entrant in the NAND-based memory market, having spent the past three decades producing DRAM technologies and moving into NAND two years ago via a joint development deal with Intel. Klein says now is the time bring SSDs to the enterprise.

"SSDs can do more than just boot server blades," says Klein. "But when you say 'SSD' to enterprise customers their initial mindset isn't NAND-based storage. They immediately think DRAM-based SSDs, which are prone to reliability issues."

NAND-based enterprise SSDs, Klein says, are a totally different animal. "NAND memory is non-volatile and its power profile is tremendously different than DRAM. With appropriate control, the reliability is there."

However, while laptops, desktops, and servers can benefit immediately from NAND technologies, Klein is skeptical about applying SSDs to storage arrays.

"Today, enterprise storage arrays that can actually keep up with the performance of SSDs are a rarity. Arrays need to be re-designed and new firmware developed," says Klein. "The components everyone uses today were not optimized for enterprise storage. They were built for digital cameras, thumb drives and mp3 players. There is a big opportunity to bring innovation to enterprise storage."

Micron's notebook SSD, the RealSSD C200, will be available in 2.5-inch and 1.8-inch form factors. The 2.5-inch C200 will be offered in densities up to 256GB, while the smaller version will range from 32GB to 128GB. Like the P200, the C200 uses a 3Gbps SATA interface, resulting in read speeds of up to 250MBps and a top write speed of 100MBps.

Micron officials declined to provide specific pricing information for the new SSDs.

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SSDs jockey for position in the enterprise
Fusion-io debuts solid-state drives
Texas Memory ships SSD drives

This article was originally published on August 06, 2008