Subject: Storage | March 26, 2015 - 02:12 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: storage, ssd, planar, nand, micron, M.2, Intel, imft, floating-gate, 3d nand
Intel and Micron are jointly announcing new 3D NAND technology that will radically increase solid-storage capacity going forward. The companies have indicated that moving to this technology will allow for the type of rapid increases in capacity that are consistent with Moore’s Law.
The way Intel and Micron are approaching 3D NAND is very different from existing 3D technologies from Samsung and now Toshiba. The implementation of floating-gate technology and “unique design choices” has produced startling densities of 256 Gb MLC, and a whopping 384 Gb with TLC. The choice to base this new 3D NAND on floating-gate technology allows development with a well-known entity, and benefits from the knowledge base that Intel and Micron have working with this technology on planar NAND over their long partnership.
What does this mean for consumers? This new 3D NAND enables greater than 10TB capacity on a standard 2.5” SSD, and 3.5TB on M.2 form-factor drives. These capacities are possible with the industry’s highest density 3D NAND, as the >3.5TB M.2 capacity can be achieved with just 5 packages of 16 stacked dies with 384 Gb TLC.
A 3D NAND cross section from Allyn's Samsung 850 Pro review
While such high density might suggest reliance on ever-shrinking process technology (and the inherent loss of durability thus associated) Intel is likely using a larger process for this NAND. Though they would not comment on this, Intel could be using something roughly equivalent to 50nm flash with this new 3D NAND. In the past die shrinks have been used to increase capacity per die (and yields) such as IMFT's move to 20nm back in 2011, but with the ability to achieve greater capacity vertically using 3D cell technology a smaller process is not necessary to achieve greater density. Additionally, working with a larger process would allow for better endurance as, for example, 50nm MLC was on the order of 10,000 program/erase cycles. Samsung similarly moved to a larger process with with their initial 3D NAND, moving from their existing 20nm technology back to 30nm with 3D production.
This announcement is also interesting considering Toshiba has just entered this space as well having announced 48-layer 128 Gb density 3D NAND, and like Samsung, they are moving away from floating-gate and using their own charge-trap implementation they are calling BiCS (Bit Cost Scaling). However with this Intel/Micron announcement the emphasis is on the ability to offer a 3x increase in capacity using the venerable floating-gate technology from planar NAND, which gives Intel / Micron an attractive position in the market - depending on price/performance of course. And while these very large capacity drives seem destined to be expensive at first, the cost structure is likely to be similar to current NAND. All of this remains to be seen, but this is indeed promising news for the future of flash storage as it will now scale up to (and beyond) spinning media capacity - unless 3D tech is implemented in hard drive production, that is.
So when will Intel and Micron’s new technology enter the consumer market? It could be later this year as Intel and Micron have already begun sampling the new NAND to manufacturers. Manufacturing has started in Singapore, plus ground has also been broken at the IMFT fab in Utah to support production here in the United States.
Subject: Storage | February 23, 2015 - 05:25 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ssd, SM2246EN, sata, micron, crucial, BX100, 1TB
It has been about a week since Al posted his review of the 256GB and 512GB models of the Crucial BX100 and what better way to remind you than with a review of the 1TB model, currently a mere $380 on Amazon (or only $374 on BHPhoto.com!). Hardware Canucks cracked open the 1TB budget priced consumer level SSD for your enjoyment right here, as well as running it through a gamut of tests. As expected their results are in line with the 512GB model as they both use a 4 channel controller, which does mean they are slower than some competitors drives. On the other hand the BX100 also has a significantly lower price making the 1TB model much more accessible for users. Check out their post here.
"Crucial's BX100 combines performance, endurance and value into one awesome budget-friendly SSD The best part? The 1TB version costs just $400."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- OCZ Challenge update: 2nd ARC 100 drive dies at 352TB @ Kitguru
- Crucial BX100 @ The SSD Review
- Crucial MX200 @ The SSD Review
- PNY CS2111 XLR8 @ The SSD Review
- Plextor M6e Black Edition PCIe 256GB @ Kitguru
- Thecus N4310 @ techPowerUp
- BeyondCloud BC214se 2300 by Synology @ TechwareLabs
- Lexar JumpDrive M20 2-in-1Flash Drive @ eTeknix
- Toshiba TransMemory-EX II USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ Madshrimps
- Asus USB 3.1 Hands-on Preview @ Kitguru
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
Micron's Crucial brand has been cranking out some great low cost SSDs for the past several years now. While their early drives pushed into the SATA 6Gb/sec interface before most of the competition, their performance was inconsistent and lagged behind some of the other more nimble solutions available at that time. This pattern was broken around the time of the M550 and MX100 launches. Those two drives were heavily competitive in performance and even moreso in pricing. Actually the pricing is probably the bigger story - when they launched, one of our readers caught a 512GB MX100 on sale for $125 ($0.24/GB)! We are coming up on a year since the MX100, and at CES 2015 Micron launched a pair of SSD models - the BX100 and MX200. Today we are going to look at the BX100 series:
Crucial aims to make the BX100 as their lowest cost/GB SSD ever - even cheaper than the MX100. Since Micron makes the flash, the best way to drive costs down is to use a lower cost controller. The Silicon Motion SM2246EN is cheaper to procure than the equivalent Marvell part, yet still performs rather well.
The Silicon Motion SM2246EN SSD controller
This is a great controller, as we have seen in our prior review of the ADATA SP610, Corsair Neutron LX, and Angelbird SSD WRK. From the specs, we can see that Micron has somehow infused their variant with increased write speeds even though it appears to use the same flash as those competing models listed above. We'll see how this plays out as the review progresses.
Subject: Storage | February 13, 2015 - 02:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Seagate, micron
The large storage companies have been teaming up for a while now, not simply through mergers and takeovers but also joint ventures between those who were once competitors. It is debatable if consumers will see much cost benefit from this cooperation but at least the products do seem to improve as specialties are combined. In this particular case we will see the traditionally disk based Seagate working with the flash memory maker Micron develop SAS products as well as SSDs for Enterprise customers. The idea of Serial attached SCSI SSDs is certainly interesting but in the current business environment you have to wonder how many companies will have the budget to invest in large scale migrations to flash based storage. It is far more likely this will bring new hybrid storage servers to the market, with SSDs in the front to provide bandwidth to frequently accessed data with HDD behind them for backups and cold storage. You can get a quick refresher on the other companies which have started cooperative ventures in the article at The Inquirer.
"SEAGATE AND MICRON have announced that they will join forces to work on projects together over a number of years."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Torvalds Polls Desire for Linux's Next Major Version Bump @ Slashdot
- AMD stops shipping chips as bloated channel begs 'Please, no more' @ The Register
- Microsoft launches wobbly Windows 10 phone preview for Lumia daredevils only @ The Register
- Hacker kicks one bit XP to 10 Windows scroll goal @ The Register
- HP's Sprout computer proves the desktop isn't dead @ The Inquirer
- The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge Media Preview @ TechARP
Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2015 - 12:40 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: storage visions, ssd, Samsung, owc, micron, Intel, ces 2015, CES
We covered some other Storage Visions sightings in a prior post, so now that a bit of the CES dust is settling down, here's the rest of what was cool to see at Storage Visions:
We'll start off with the Sonnet Tempo SSD Pro Plus, seen here with a pair of OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSDs installed. This is a PCIe to 4-channel SATA HBA. The controller does not appear to employ RAID, leaving that functionality up to the host system OS. Two 2.5" SATA devices can be mounted directly to the PCB, and an additional two SATA channels are available through the rear panel eSATA ports. This card is marketed primarily as a storage expander for Mac products, and can be connected to a Mac Pro via a Thunderbolt-to-PCIe card expander.
Here is an ASUS Copper, which bridges M.2 (enclosed within a 2.5" housing) to a SATA Express link. This may be handy for current generation PCIe 2.0 x2 M2 devices, but with PCIe 2.0 x4 and 3.0 x4 SSDs on the horizon, a SATA Express device of this type will rather quickly become a throughput bottleneck.
Various recent enterprise SSDs. Bottom left is our first sighting of a P3500, sitting next to a Micron P420M, which is just below a Micron M500DC. The right side is all Samsung, and includes an XS1715, which is not SATA, but PCIe/NVMe via an SFF-8639 connector. There are a few M.2 units in the center, and what appears to be another 1715 HHHL unit (PCIe/NVMe) at the bottom right.
That wraps up the Storage Visions goodies. Stand by for more storage related posts as we comb through all of the press releases and photos from the meetings we attended earlier this week.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Storage | October 6, 2014 - 02:51 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ssd, slc, mlc, micron, M600, Dynamic Write Acceleration
The Tech Report took a different look at Micron's M600 SSD than Al did in his review. Their benchmarks were focused more on a performance comparison versus the rest of the market, with over two dozen SSDs listed in their charts. As you would expect the 1TB model outperformed the 256GB model but it was interesting to note that the 256GB MX100 outperformed the newer M600 in many tests. In the final tally the new caching technology helped the 256GB model perform quite well but it was the 1TB model, which supposedly lacks that technology proved to be one of the fastest they have tested.
"Micron's new M600 SSD has a dynamic write cache that can treat any block on the drive as high-speed SLC NAND. This unique feature is designed to help lower-capacity SSDs keep up with larger drives that have more NAND-level parallelism, and we've tested the 256GB and 1TB versions to see how well it works."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- MyDigitalSSD BP4e mSATA SSD @ The SSD Review
- Top 10 SSDs: Price, performance and capacity @ The Register
- Micron M600 M.2 SATA SSD @ The SSD Review
- Some thoughts on the performance of SSD RAID 0 arrays @ Hardware Secrets
- Transcend SSD370 128GB SSD Review @ Legit Reviews
- Micron M600 SSD @ The SSD Review
- QNAP TS-653 Pro @ Legion Hardware
- QNAP SilentNAS HS-251 NAS Server Review @ NikKTech
- Mach Xtreme MX-ES Ultra SLC USB 3.0 Flash Drive @ The SSD Review
- Silicon Power Marvel M70 64GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2014 - 02:05 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: X99 Classified, X99, video, tlc, tegra k1, ssd, Samsung, podcast, nvidia, micron, M600, iphone 6, g-sync, freesync, evga, broadwell-u, Broadwell, arm, apple, amd, adaptive sync, a8, 840 evo, 840
PC Perspective Podcast #320 - 10/02/2014
Join us this week as we discuss the Micron M600 SSD, NVIDIA and Adaptive Sync, Windows 10 and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano
Program length: 1:27:21
Introduction and Specifications
Today Micron lifted the review embargo on their new M600 SSD lineup. We covered their press launch a couple of weeks ago, but as a recap, the headline new feature is the new Dynamic Write Acceleration feature. As this is a new (and untested) feature that completely changes the way an SSD must be tested, we will be diving deep on this one later in this article. For the moment, let's dispose with the formalities.
Here are the samples we received for testing:
It's worth noting that since all M600 models use 16nm 128Gbit dies, packaging is expected to have a negligible impact on performance. This means the 256GB MSATA sample should perform equally to its 2.5" SATA counterpart. The same goes for comparisons against M.2 form factor units. More detail is present in the specs below:
Highlights from the above specs are the increased write speeds (no doubt thanks to Dynamic Write Acceleration) and improved endurance figures. For reference, the prior gen Micron models were rated at 72TB (mostly regardless of capacity), so seeing figures upwards of 400TB indicates Micron's confidence in their 16nm process.
Sorry to disappoint here, but the M600 is an OEM targeted drive, meaning its 'packaging' will likely be the computer it comes installed in. If you manage to find it through a reseller, it will likely come in OEM-style brown/white box packaging.
We have been evaluating these samples for just under a week and have logged *many* hours on them, so let's get to it!
Subject: Storage | September 18, 2014 - 07:10 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: micron, M600, SLC. MLC, DWA
Micron's M600 SSD has a new trick up its sleeve, called dynamic write acceleration which is somewhat similar to the HDDs with an NAND cache to accelerate the speed frequently accessed data can be read but with a brand new trick. In this case SLC NAND acts as the cache for MLC NAND but it does so dynamically, the NAND can switch from SLC to MLC and back depending on the amount of usage. There is a cost, the SLC storage capacity is 50% lower than MLC so the larger the cache the lower the total amount of storage is available. As well the endurance rating is also higher than previous drives, not because of better NAND but because of new trim techniques being used. This is not yet a retail product so The Tech Report does not have benchmarks but this goes to show you there are plenty more tricks we can teach SSDs.
"Micron's new M600 SSD can flip its NAND cells between SLC and MLC modes on the fly, enabling a dynamic write cache that scales with the drive's unused capacity. We've outlined how this dynamic write acceleration is supposed to impact performance, power consumption, and endurance."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Adata's Premier SP610 @ The Tech Report
- A SCORCHIO fatboy SSD: Samsung SSD850 PRO 3D V-NAND @ The Register
- Silicon Power Blaze B06 64GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ NikKTech
- SanDisk Ultra II SSD Review (240GB) - TLC Memory becomes Mainstream @ The SSD Review
- Thecus N2310 2-bay NAS @ Kitguru
- QNAP TS-451 @ techPowerUp
- Kingston HyperX FURY 64GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ OCC
Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | September 16, 2014 - 02:29 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: ssd, slc, sata, mlc, micron, M600, crucial
You may already be familiar with the Micron Crucial M550 line of SSDs (if not, familiarize yourself with our full capacity roundup here). Today Micron is pushing their tech further by releasing a new M600 line. The M600's are the first full lineup from Micron to use their 16nm flash (previously only in their MX100 line). Aside from the die shrink, Micron has addressed the glaring issue we noted in our M550 review - that issue being the sharp falloff in write speeds in lower capacities of that line. Their solution is rather innovative, to say the least.
Recall the Samsung 840 EVO's 'TurboWrite' cache, which gave that drive a burst of write speed during short sustained write periods. The 840 EVO accomplished this by each TLC die having a small SLC section of flash memory. All data written passed through this cache, and once full (a few GB, varying with drive capacity), write speed slowed to TLC levels until the host system stopped writing for long enough for the SSD to flush the cached data from SLC to TLC.
The Micron M600 SSD in 2.5" SATA, MSATA, and M.2 form factors.
Micron flips the 'typical' concept of caching methods on its head. It does employ two different types of flash writing (SLC and MLC), but the first big difference is that the SLC is not really cache at all - not in the traditional sense, at least. The M600 controller, coupled with some changes made to Micron's 16nm flash, is able to dynamically change the mode of each flash memory die *on the fly*. For example, the M600 can place most of the individual 16GB (MLC) dies into SLC mode when the SSD is empty. This halves the capacity of each die, but with the added benefit of much faster and more power efficient writes. This means the M600 would really perform more like an SLC-only SSD so long as it was kept less than half full.
As you fill the SSD towards (and beyond) half capacity, the controller incrementally clears the SLC-written data, moving that data onto dies configured to MLC mode. Once empty, the SLC die is switched over to MLC mode, effectively clearing more flash area for the increasing amount of user data to be stored on the SSD. This process repeats over time as the drive is filled, meaning you will see less SLC area available for accelerated writing (see chart above). Writing to the SLC area is also advantageous in mobile devices, as those writes not only occur more quickly, they consume less power in the process:
For those worst case / power user scenarios, here is a graph of what a sustained sequential write to the entire drive area would look like:
Realize this is not typical usage, but if it happened, you would see SLC speeds for the first ~45% of the drive, followed by MLC speeds for another 10%. After the 65% point, the drive is forced to initiate the process of clearing SLC and flipping dies over to MLC, doing so while the host write is still in progress, and therefore resulting in the relatively slow write speed (~50 MB/sec) seen above. Realize that in normal use (i.e. not filling the entire drive at full speed in one go), garbage collection would be able to rearrange data in the background during idle time, meaning write speeds should be near full SLC speed for the majority of the time. Even with the SSD nearly full, there should be at least a few GB of SLC-mode flash available for short bursts of SLC speed writes.
This caching has enabled some increased specs over the prior generation models:
Note the differences in write speeds, particularly in the lower capacity models. The 128GB M550 was limited to 190MB/sec, while the M600 can write at 400MB/sec in SLC mode (which is where it should sit most of the time).
We'll be testing the M600 shortly and will come back with a full evaluation of the SSD as a whole and more specifically how it handles this new tech under real usage scenarios.