Subject: Storage | August 11, 2016 - 12:06 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: FMS, FMS 2016, XPoint, micron, QuantX, nand, ram
Earlier this week, Micron launched their QuantX branding for XPoint devices, as well as giving us some good detail on expected IOPS performance of solutions containing these new parts:
Thanks to the very low latency of XPoint, the QuantX solution sees very high IOPS performance at a very low queue depth, and the random performance very quickly scales to fully saturate PCIe 3.0 x4 with only four queued commands. Micron's own 9100 MAX SSD (reviewed here), requires QD=256 (64x increase) just to come close to this level of performance! At that same presentation, a PCIe 3.0 x8 QuantX device was able to double that throughput at QD=8, but what are these things going to look like?
The real answer is just like modern day SSDs, but for the time being, we have the prototype unit pictured above. This is essentially an FPGA development board that Micron is using to prototype potential controller designs. Dedicated ASICs based on the final designs may be faster, but those take a while to ramp up volume production.
So there it is, in the flesh, nicely packaged and installed on a complete SSD. Sure it's a prototype, but Intel has promised we will see XPoint before the end of the year, and I'm excited to see this NAND-to-DRAM performance-gap-filling tech come to the masses!
Subject: Storage | August 9, 2016 - 03:33 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: XPoint, QuantX, nand, micron
Micron just completed their keynote address at Flash Memory Summit, and as part of the presentation, we saw our first look at some raw scaled Queue Depth IOPS performance figures from devices utilizing XPoint memory:
These are the performance figures from an U.2 device with a PCIe 3.0 x4 link. Note the outstanding ramp up to full saturation of the bus at a QD of only 4. Slower flash devices require much more parallelism and a deeper queue to achieve sufficient IOPS throughput to saturate that same bus. That 'slow' device on the bottom there, I'm pretty certain, is Micron's own 9100 MAX, which was the fastest thing we had tested to date, and it's being just walked all over by this new XPoint prototype!
Ok, so that's damn fast, but what if you had an add in card with PCIe 3.0 x8?
Ok, now that's just insane! While the queue had to climb to ~8 to reach these figures, that's 1.8 MILLION IOPS from a single HHHL add in card. That's greater than 7 GB/s worth of 4KB random performance!
In addition to the crazy throughput and IOPS figures, we also see latencies running at 1/10th that of flash-based NVMe devices.
..so it appears that while the cell-level performance of XPoint boasts 1000x improvements over flash, once you implement it into an actual solution that must operate within the bounds of current systems (NVMe and PCIe 3.0), we currently get only a 10x improvement over NAND flash. Given how fast NAND already is, 10x is no small improvement, and XPoint still opens the door for further improvement as the technology and implementations mature over time.
More to follow as FMS continues!
Subject: Storage | August 9, 2016 - 01:09 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: XPoint, UFS, QuantX, micron, FMS 2016, FMS
As you can see, UFS is not just for SD cards. These are going to be able to replace embedded memory in mobile devices, displacing the horror that is eMMC with something way faster. These devices are smaller than a penny, with a die size of just over 60 mm squared and boast a 32GB capacity.
One version of the UFS 2.1 devices also contains Micron's first packaged offering of LPDDR4X. This low power RAM offers an additional 20% power savings over existing LPDDR4.
Also up is an overdue branding of Micron's XPoint (spoken 'cross-point') products:
More to follow from FMS 2016. A few little birdies told me there will be some good stuff presented this morning (PST), so keep an eye out, folks!
Press blast for Micron's UFS goodness appears after the break.
Subject: Storage | July 26, 2016 - 02:34 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: MX300, micron, M.2, crucial, 525GB, 275GB, 1TB
We reviewed the Crucial MX300 750GB SSD a few months back. It was a good drive that tested well, and thanks to its IMFT 3D NAND, it came in at a very competitive price point. Today Crucial has rearranged that lineup a bit:
The following capacities are being added to the MX300 lineup:
- 1TB $260 ($0.26/GB)
- 525GB $130 ($0.25/GB)
- 275GB $70 ($0.25/GB)
- 275GB * M.2 2280
The new capacities will be what is sold moving forward (starting 'late August'), with the 750GB model shifting to 'Limited Edition' status. That $0.25/GB carrying all the way down to the lowest capacity is significant, as typically we see higher cost/GB due to controller/PCB/packaging have more impact. Without that coming into play, we get a nearly 300GB SSD coming in at $70!
Specs and expected performance remain the same across all capacities, save a dip in random read performance on the 275GB models, mainly due to the reduced die count / parallelism. We'll take a look at these new capacities just as soon as samples arrive.
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
It's been too long since we took a look at enterprise SSDs here at PC Perspective, so it's high time we get back to it! The delay has stemmed from some low-level re-engineering of our test suite to unlock some really cool QoS and Latency Percentile possibilities involving PACED workloads. We've also done a lot of work to distill hundreds of hours of test results into fewer yet more meaningful charts. More on that as we get into the article. For now, let's focus on today's test subject:
Behold the Micron 9100 MAX Series. Inside that unassuming 2.5" U.2 enclosure sits 4TB of flash and over 4GB of DRAM. It's capable of 3 GB/s reads, 2 GB/s writes, and 750,000 IOPS. All from inside that little silver box! There's not a lot more to say here because nobody is going to read much past that 3/4 MILLION IOPS figure I just slipped, so I'll just get into the rest of the article now :).
The 9100's come in two flavors and form factors. The MAX series (1.2TB and 2.4TB in the above list) come with very high levels of performance and endurance, while the PRO series comes with lower overprovisioning, enabling higher capacity points for a given flash loadout (800GB, 1.6TB, 3.2TB). Those five different capacity / performance points are available in both PCIe (HHHL) and U.2 (2.5") form factors, making for 10 total available SKUs. All products are PCIe 3.0 x4, using NVMe as their protocol. They should all be bootable on systems capable of UEFI/NVMe BIOS enumeration.
Idle power consumption is a respectable 7W, while active consumption is selectable in 20W, 25W, and 'unlimited' increments. While >25W operation technically exceeds the PCIe specification for non-GPU devices, we know that the physical slot is capable of 75W for GPUs, so why can't SSDs have some more fun too! That said, even in unlimited mode, the 9100's should still stick relatively close to 25W and in our testing did not exceed 29W at any workload. Detailed power testing is coming to future enterprise articles, but for now, the extent will be what was measured and noted in this paragraph.
Our 9100 MAX samples came only in anti-static bags, so no fancy packaging to show here. Enterprise parts typically come in white/brown boxes with little flair.
Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2016 - 12:35 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: NVMe, 9100, micron
Testing out twelve 9100 NVMe flash drives is not easy as it requires some interesting configurations to make the testing worth while, sticking them all in a box and running ATTO is not going to create valuable information. Those custom configurations revealed some interesting limitations, such as Windows' RAID having an upper limit of 385K IOPS and the Linux flavours tested topped out at 400K IOPS.
Server 2016 Technical Preview 5 turned out to be more stable than Server 2012 R2; somehow using Resource Monitor managed to crash hard enough to break the Server install in one case. 2016 also had that upper IOPS limit which was far below the drives actual capabilities. Drop by The Inquirer for look at the work which was done to set up for testing as well as the results.
"I have spent the past TWO months testing these cards, the past month of which has involved truly tormenting them. I've learned a lot of things. There's the basic "NVMe is faster" that you can get from reading about the theory behind the drives, but there have also been a lot of little practical tidbits that you only get to find out when you run face first into problems."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Lawyer bot has overturned 160,000 parking offences and counting @ The Inquirer
- Office 365 corporate users targeted with zero-day ransomware attack @ The Inquirer
- Now Intel swings axe at sales, marketing peeps @ The Register
- Activision Abuses DMCA To Take Knock Indie Game Entirely Off Steam @ Slashdot
- 25,000 malware-riddled CCTV cameras form network-crashing botnet @ The Register
- Microsoft launches Net Core 1.0 for Linux, OS X and Windows @ The Inquirer
- AMD, Nvidia next-generation graphics card competition to begin earlier @ DigiTimes
- US Customs Wants To Know Travelers' Social Media Account Names @ The Inquirer
Introduction, Dynamic Write Acceleration, and Packaging
Micron joined Intel in announcing their joint venture production of IMFT 3D NAND just a bit over a year ago. The industry was naturally excited since IMFT has historically enabled relatively efficient production, ultimately resulting in reduced SSD prices over time. I suspect this time things will be no different as IMFT's 3D Flash has been aiming high die capacities since its inception, and I suspect their second generation will *double* per-die capacities while keeping speeds reasonable thanks to a quad-plane design implemented from the start of this endeavor. Of course, I'm getting ahead of myself a bit as there are no consumer products sporting this flash just yet - well not until today at least:
Marketed under Micron's consumer brand Crucial, the MX300 is their first entrant into the consumer space, as well as the first consumer SSD sporting IMFT 3D NAND. Crucial is known for their budget-minded SSDs, and for the MX300 they chose to go with the best cost/GB they could manage with what they had to work with. That meant putting this new 3D NAND into TLC mode. Now there are many TLC haters out there, but remember this is 3D NAND. Samsung's 850 EVO can exceed 500 MB/sec writes to TLC at its 500GB capacity point, and this MX300 is a product that is launching with *only* a 750GB capacity, so its TLC speed should be at least reasonable.
(the return of) Dynamic Write Acceleration
Dynamic Write Acceleration in action during a sequential fill - that last slowest part was my primary concern for the mX300.
TLC is not the only story here because Crucial has included their Dynamic Write Acceleration (DWA) technology into the MX300. This is a tech where the SSD controller is able to dynamically switch flash programming modes of the flash pool, doing so at the block level. This appears to be a feature unique to IMFT flash, as every other 'hybrid' SSD we have tested had a static SLC cache area. DWA's ability to switch flash modes on-the-fly has always fascinated me on paper, but I just haven't been impressed by Micron's previous attempts to implement it. The M600 was a bit all over the place on its write consistency, and that SSD was flipping blocks between SLC and MLC. With the MX300 flipping between SLC and *TLC*, there was a possibility of far more noticeable slow downs in the cases where large writes were taking place and the controller was caught trying to scavenge space in the background.
New Latency Percentile vs. legacy IO Percentile, shown here highlighting a performance inconsistency seen in the Toshiba OCZ RD400. Note which line more closely represents the Latency Distribution (gray) also on this plot.
Subject: General Tech | June 2, 2016 - 12:26 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: micron, 3d nand, tlc, mlc, DEVSLP
Micron have unveiled their new line of 3D NAND, the SATA 6Gbps TLC 1100 and the NVMe MLC 2100, although they only shared details of the former. The 1100 will introduce DEVSLP mode, where the drives power draw will dip to less than 2mW on the smaller drives, 4mW for the 1TB with the 2TB model requiring 25mW. The TLC used in the drive is rather impressive, the advertised speeds come very close to what their MLC based M600 drives are capable of. Check out the full specs and more over at The Register.
"Intel, its flash foundry partner, introduced its own 3D SSDs, MLC (2bits/cell) ones, in March with the DC P3320 and P3520, with maximum capacity of 2TB. These had an NVME interface whereas Micron’s 1100 has the slower 6Gbit/s SATA interface."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- 5 Takeaways From The Intel Computex 2016 Keynote @ TechARP
- Computex 2016 Live Coverage Day 2 @ TechARP
- Windows 7, Server 2008 'Convenience' update is anything but – it breaks VMware networking @ The Register
- Noble Chairs Epic Real Leather gaming chair @ Kitguru
- FOBO Tire Plus All Bluetooth Smart Tire Pressure Monitoring System Review @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | April 14, 2016 - 12:42 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: video, TMX, Thrustmaster, podcast, omega, micron, Lian-Li, Intel, game ready, crimson, catalyst, bx300, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #395 - 04/14/2016
Join us this week as we discuss AMD Driver Quality, New Intel and Micron SSDs, Corsair's SPEC-ALPHA and more!
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This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Lenovo!
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Sebastian Peak
Program length: 1:08:28
Subject: General Tech | April 14, 2016 - 12:28 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Ryan's Law, NVMe, micron
Micron has announced their own PCIe 3.0 NVMe devices today, in HHHL, M.2 and 2.5" form factors. The specifications are a little sparse at the moment, we do not know the flash which resides within the devices nor the endurance differences between the 7100 PRO series which is designed for read heavy scenarios or the 7100 MAX which is for mixed usage. In addition to the 7100 series, they also announced the 9100 series which ranges in size from 800GB up to 3.2TB and has theoretical sequential reads of 3GB/s and writes of 2GB/s. The Register was not provided with any specific pricing but Micron suggested the 7100 series could be priced similarly to SATA drives, while the 9100 series will obviously lie outside the boundaries of Ryan's Law.
"These NVMe SSDs complement Micron's existing S600DC SAS SSDs, which are now shipping in volume. The 7100 is the smaller product and the 9100 its big brother. Both have a PCIe gen 3 NVMe interface, which is faster than the 12 Gbit/s SAS interface used by the S600DC flash drives."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- DOOM Open Beta @ Steam
- Blizzard knocked over by Lizard DDoS snowstorm @ The Inquirer
- Chrome 50 marks the end of support for Windows XP, Vista and old OS X versions @ The Inquirer
- Our First Look At The STOM Spectrum i100 @ TechARP
- Facebook open-sources city-wide WiGig internet comms, phone masts @ The Register
- iOS 'date bug' can be exploited over Wi-Fi using NTP @ The Register
- Tell us about your worst data disaster to win a Macrium Reflect key @ The Tech Report