Micron unveils its first entry-level SSD for blade servers

The P400e has a read/write rate of 350MBps and 140MBps, respectively

Micron today released its first entry-level solid-state drive (SSD), which is designed for use as a boot drive in servers or for I/O-intensive read applications, such as video streaming in cloud computing environments.

The new entry-level P400e comes in a 2.5-in. wide, 0.27-in. (7mm) high form factor. Its release follows the shipment last month of Micron's highest-end flash drive, the PCIe-based P320h. The P400e SSD completes Micron's data center product lineup, which includes the midtier P300 SSD.

P400e SSD
Micron's new P400e SSD

Kevin Dibelius, senior product marketing manager at Micron, said the company chose the slimmest possible form factor for the SSD to meet the needs of pizza-box-style blade server environments. The drive can also be embedded in routers and switches and can be used in servers in cloud infrastructures that handle video on demand, Web search applications and cloud infrastructures.

In comparison to Micron's P300 drive, which uses single-level cell (SLC) NAND, the P400e uses consumer-grade multilevel cell NAND, which brings its price down to about $2 per gigabyte of capacity, Micron said.

The P400e features a 6Gbps serial ATA (SATA) interface. It comes in capacities of 50GB, 100GB, 200GB and 400GB and has a maximum sequential read and write rates of 350MBps and 140MBps, respectively. Using 4KB-page sizes, the P400e can achieve up to 50,000 I/Os per second (IOPS) for reads and 7,500 IOPS for writes. The 50GB version of the SSD has a slower write rate of 100MBps or 7,000 IOPS.

In comparison, Micron's P300 SSD can achieve a read speed of up to 360MBps and a write speed of up to 275MBps.

Micron said it used its thinnest circuitry -- 25-nanometer -- for the P400e, and that allowed it to keep the price point low.

Regarding endurance, or longevity, Micron said its P400e can withstand 95GB worth of write data per day for five years, or a total of 175TB of data written and erased. That doesn't match the long-term performance of another SSD released this week from Israeli startup Anobit.

Anobit's Genesis 2 also uses consumer-grade MLC flash in its 2.5-in. SSD, but it has a maximum sequential read and write rates of 540MBps and 510MBps, respectively.

The Genesis 2's endurance rate is 50,000 write-erase cycles, or roughly 10 to 15 times that of typical consumer-based NAND flash. Anobit said it guarantees a write endurance of 10 times the SSD capacity per day for five years, or 7,300TB (7.3 petabytes) for a 400GB model drive.

However, Anobit would not release pricing for its drive, so it could be considerably more expensive than Micron's P400e, which has a starting price of $100.

"Our customers have been asking for an affordable, reliable, performance-driven, solid-state storage option for [direct-attached storage]-level applications, and the P400e drive delivers on those key design requirements," said Gary Gentry, general manager of the enterprise SSD division of Micron's NAND Solutions Group.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian, or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His email address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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