Once we saw Intel launch QLC flash installed in their recent 660p M.2 part, I had a feeling that Micron would not be far behind, and that feeling has been confirmed with the launch of the Crucial P1 M.2 SSDs:
Both the 500GB and 1TB models are single sided. The 2TB (not yet released) will likely have packages installed at the rear.
No surprises with the packaging. Does the job just fine.
Specs are also reasonably standard for an NVMe SSD at this point, though we do see a bit more of a falloff at the lower capacities here. This is partially due to the use of QLC flash, even though these specs are likely assuming full use of the available SLC cache. Since QLC allows for higher capacity per die, that translates to fewer dies for a given SSD total capacity, which lowers overall performance even at SLC speeds. This is a common trait/tradeoff for the use of higher capacity dies.
Subject: Storage | December 7, 2018 - 03:24 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: crucial, QLC, P1, 500gb, PCIe SSD, NVMe
The Crucial P1 SSD marks two firsts for the company, their first NVMe drive as well as their first SSD using QLC flash. The drive differs from Samsung's QVO in that it uses Micron's 64-layer 3D QLC flash and an SM2263 controller but still uses QLC flash, much to the dismay of The Tech Report, amongst others. The 500GB drive currently sells for $110, which is attractive but when you look at the performance, it seems perhaps a bit expensive; which is not good.
"Powered by Micron's 3D quad-level-cell NAND, the Crucial P1 might be a herald of QLC-dominated days to come. We put Crucial's first NVMe drive through its paces to see how increasing the number of bits per cell affects performance."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- ADATA SX8200 Pro 1 TB @ TechPowerUp
- Crucial BX500 480GB @ Kitguru
- Kingston HyperX Fury RGB 480 GB @ TechPowerUp
- HyperX Savage EXO Portable SSD Review @ Hardware Asylum
Subject: Storage | November 27, 2018 - 06:54 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ssd, slc, sata, Samsung, QLC, 860 QVO, 2.5
Samsung have jumped up the alphabet, going from EVO to QVO with their new lower cost QLC based SSD family. The 4TB model Allyn reviewed sells for $600, not bad for a drive of that size but still a little pricey for some. A more affordable option can be seen at The Tech Report, the 1TB drive they reviewed sells for $150. If you are on a somewhat limited budget and don't mind a small hit in performance nor a three year warranty or 360TB written endurance then this drive is worth a look.
Samsung's EVO drives have ruled the SATA roost for the last several years. Today, Samsung is introducing high-capacity, lower-cost 860 QVO drives with four-bit-per-cell QLC NAND inside. Can they live up to the high expectations Samsung has set with its past products?"
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Samsung 860 QVO 2TB SSD @ Guru of 3D
- Samsung 860 QVO SSD Review – 1TB/2TB Drives Tested @ Legit Reviews
- MyDigitalSSD BPX Pro SSD Benchmarked With Firmware v12.1 @ Legit Reviews
- Mushkin SOURCE 250GB SSD Review @ NikKTech
- HyperX Fury RGB 480GB SSD Review @ Hardware Asylum
- Corsair Force MP510 960GB @ Kitguru
- TEAMGROUP T-FORCE DELTA R Rainbow RGB 250GB SSD Review @ NikKTech
Samsung has opted to name this new product 'QVO'. The Q presumably stems from the use QLC flash, which can store four bits per cell.
While QLC writes are far slower than what we are used to seeing from a modern SSD, SLC caching is the answer to bridging that performance gap. The 860 QVO employs Samsung's Intelligent TurboWrite, which has a minimum 6GB static cache plus a dynamic cache of up to 72GB. This dynamic cache varies based on available QLC area which can be reconfigured to operate in SLC mode. Do note the 'After TubroWrite' speeds of 80 and 160 MB/s - that's the raw QLC speeds that you will see if the cache has been exhausted during an extended write period.
The rest of the specs are about what we expect from a SATA SSD, but I do have a concern with those QD1 4KB random read ratings of only 7,500 IOPS. This is on the low side especially for Samsung, who typically dominate in low QD random read performance.
Subject: General Tech | August 16, 2018 - 03:16 PM | Alex Lustenberg
Tagged: xeon, video, Turning, Threadripper, ssd, Samsung, QLC, podcast, PA32UC, nvidia, nand, L1TF, Intel, DOOM Eternal, asus, amd, 660p, 2990wx, 2950x
PC Perspective Podcast #509 - 08/16/18
Join us this week for discussion on Modded Thinkpads, EVGA SuperNOVA PSUs, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano
Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg
Program length: 1:35:10
There is no 3
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
Picks of the Week:
Subject: General Tech | August 9, 2018 - 11:10 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: V-NAND, sata ssd, Samsung, QLC, enterprise ssd
Earlier this week Samsung announced that it has begun mass production on its first consumer solid state drive based on QLC (4 bits per cell) V-NAND. According to the company, the initial drives will offer 4TB capacities and deliver equivalent performance to Samsung’s TLC offerings along with a three year warranty.
Samsung claims that its fourth generation V-NAND flash in QLC mode (with 16 voltage states) with 64 layers is able to offer up to 1Tb per chip. The 4TB SATA SSD uses a 3-bit SSD controller, TurboWrite technology, and 32 1Tb QLC V-NAND chips and thanks to the write cache (running the V-NAND in SLC or MLC modes) Samsung is able to wring extra performance out of the drive though it’s obviously limited ultimately by the SATA interface. Specifically, Samsung is promising sequential reads of 540 MB/s and sequential writes of up to 520 MB/s with the new QLC SSD. For comparison, Samsung’s fourth generation V-NAND operating in TLC mode is able to offer up to 256Gb and 512Gb capacities depending on package. Moving to fifth generation V-NAND in TLC mode Samsung is offering 256Gb per chip capacities (using 96 layers). Scouring the internet, it appears that Samsung has yet to reveal what it expects to achieve from 5th generation V-NAND in QLC mode. It should be able to at least match the 1Tb of 4th generation QLC V-NAND with the improved performance and efficiencies of the newer generation (including the faster Toggle DDR 4.0 interface) though I would guess Samsung could get more, maybe topping out at as much as 1.5Tb (eventually and if they use 96 layers--I was finding conflicting info on this). In any event, for futher comparison, Intel and Micron have been able to get 1Tb QLC 3D NAND flash chips and Western Digital and Toshiba are working on 96 Layer BiCS4 which is expected to offer up to 1.33Tb capacities when run in 4-bits per cell mode (QLC).
It seems that Samsung is playing a bit of catch up when it comes to solid state storage using QLC though they do still have a bit of time to launch products this year along with the other players. Samsung claims that it will launch its 4TB 2.5” consumer SSD first with 1TB and 2TB models to follow later this year.
Interestingly (and more vaguely), Samsung mentioned in its press release that it plans to begin rolling out M.2 SSDs for the enterprise market and that it will begin mass producing fifth generation 4-bit V-NAND later this year.
I am looking forward to more details on Samsung’s plans for QLC and especially on the specifications of fifth generation 4-bit V-NAND and the drives that it will enable for both consumer systems and the data center markets.
What are your thoughts on Samsung’s QLC V-NAND?
- Intel SSD 660p 1TB SSD Review - QLC Goes Mainstream
- Intel, Micron Jointly Announce QLC NAND FLASH, 96-Layer 3D Development
- Micron Launches 5210 ION - First QLC NAND Enterprise SATA SSD
- FMS 2017: Samsung Announces QLC V-NAND, 16TB NGSFF SSD, Z-SSD V2, Key Value
- Toshiba and Western Digital announce QLC and 96-Layer BiCS Flash
Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging
Flash Memory Summit 2018 is on, and it's rapidly looking like the theme of the year is 'QLC'. QLC stands for Quad Level Cell, which is a bit of a misnomer since there are actually 16 voltage levels of a QLC cell - the 'quad' actually relating to the four bits of data that can be stored at any specific location.
Doubling the number of voltage states allows you to store 33% more data in a given number of flash cells, but comes at a cost. The tighter voltage tolerances required and higher sensitivity to cell leakage mean that endurance ratings cannot be as high as TLC or MLC, and programming (writing) requires greater voltage precision, meaning slower writes. Reads may also see a slight penalty since it is more difficult to discriminate more finely grained voltage thresholds. SSD makers have been trying to overcome these hurdles for years, and it seems that Intel is now the first to crack the code, launching their first mainstream QLC SSD:
Specifications are not earth shattering but respectable for a budget-minded NVMe SSD. 1.8GB/s sequentials and 250,000 IOPS fall well within NVMe territory. The write figures may be higher than expected given this article intro, but Intel has a few tricks up their sleeves here that help them pull this off:
While not specifically called out in the specs, Intel has implemented a large dynamic write cache to help overcome slower QLC media write speeds. The idea here is that in the vast majority of typical usage scenarios, the user should never see QLC speeds and will only ever be writing to SLC. The dynamic cache is created by simply operating sections of the QLC media in SLC mode (1TB of QLC = 256GB of SLC). Intel could have gone higher here, but doing so would more negatively impact endurance since erasing blocks of cells wears the flash similarly regardless of the mode it is currently operating in.
Simple packaging. Nothing to write home about.
Read on for our full review of the Intel SSD 660p 1TB QLC SSD!
Subject: Storage | May 30, 2018 - 07:28 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: ssd, QLC, Optane DC, Optane, Intel, DIMM, 3D XPoint, 20TB
Lots of good stuff coming out of Intel's press event earlier today. First up is Optane, now (finally and officially) in a DIMM form factor!:
We have seen and tested Optane in several forms, but all so far have been bottlenecked by the interface and controller architectures. The only real way to fully realize the performance gains of 3D XPoint (how it works here) is to move away from the slower interfaces that are holding it back. A DIMM form factor is just the next logical step here.
Intel shows the new 'Optane DC Persistent Memory' as yet another tier up the storage/memory stack. The new parts will be available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB capacities. We don't have confirmation on the raw capacity, but based on Intel's typical max stack height of 4 dies per package, 3D XPoint's raw die capacity of 16GB, and a suspected 10 packages per DIMM, that should come to 640GB raw capacity. Combined with a 60 DWPD rating (up from 30DWPD for P4800X), this shows Intel is loosening up their design margins considerably. This makes sense as 3D XPoint was a radically new and unproven media when first launched, and it has now built up a decent track record in the field.
Bridging The Gap chart - part of a sequence from our first P4800X review.
Recall that even with Intel's Optane DC SSD parts like the P4800X, there remained a ~100x latency gap between the DRAM and the storage. The move to DIMMs should help Intel push closer to the '1000x faster than NAND' claims made way back when 3D XPoint was launched. Even if DIMMs were able to extract all possible physical latency gains from XPoint, there will still be limitations imposed by today's software architectures, which still hold many legacy throwbacks from the times of HDDs. Intel generally tries to help this along by providing various caching solutions that allow Optane to directly augment the OS's memory. These new DIMMs, when coupled with supporting enterprise platforms capable of logically segmenting RAM and NV DIMM slots, should be able to be accessed either directly or as a memory expansion tier.
Circling back to raw performance, we'll have to let software evolve a bit further to see even better gains out of XPoint platforms. That's likely the reason Intel did not discuss any latency figures for the new products today. My guess is that latencies should push down into the 1-3us range, splitting the difference between current generation DRAM (~80-100ns) and PCIe-based Optane parts (~10us). While the DIMM form factor is certainly faster, there is still a management layer at play here, meaning some form of controller or a software layer to handle wear leveling. No raw XPoint sitting on the memory bus just yet.
Also out of the event came talks about QLC NAND flash. Recently announced by Intel / Micron, along with 96-layer 3D NAND development, QLC helps squeeze higher capacities out of given NAND flash dies. Endurance does take a hit, but so long as the higher density media is coupled to appropriate client/enterprise workloads, there should be no issue with premature media wear-out or data retention. Micron has already launched an enterprise QLC part, and while Intel been hush-hush on actual product launches, they did talk about both client and enterprise QLC parts (with the latter pushing into 20TB in a 2.5" form factor).
Subject: Storage | May 21, 2018 - 04:31 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: ssd, QLC, NVMe, nand, Intel, Floating Gate, flash, die, 1Tbit
In tandem with Micron's launch of their new enterprise QLC SSDs, there is a broader technology announcement coming out of Intel today. This release covers the fact that Intel and Micron have jointly developed shippable 64-Layer 3D QLC NAND.
IMFT's 3D NAND announcement came back in early 2015, and Intel/Micron Flash Technologies have been pushing their floating gate technology further and further. Not only do we have the QLC announcement today, but with it came talks of progress on 96-layer development as well. Combining QLC with 96-Layer would yield a single die capacity of 1.5 Tbit (192GB), up from the 1 Tbit (128GB) capacity of the 64-Layer QLC die that is now in production.
This new flash won't be meant for power users, but should be completely usable in a general use client SSD, provided there is a bit of SLC (or 3D XPoint???) cache on the front end. QLC does store 33% more data per the same die space, which should eventually translate to a lower $/GB once development costs have been recouped. Here's hoping for lower cost SSDs in the future!
Subject: Storage | May 21, 2018 - 04:30 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: ssd, sata, QLC, nand, micron, enterprise
For those that study how flash memory stores bits, Quad Level Cell technology is a tricky thing to pull off in production. You are taking a single NAND Flash cell and change its stored electron count in such a way that you can later discriminate between SIXTEEN different states.
...we're talking a countable number (dozens to hundreds) of electrons making the difference between a stored 0101 or 0110 in a given cell. Pulling that off in production-capable parts is no small feat, and doing so for enterprise usage first is definitely a bold move. Enter Micron:
The 5210 ION line is a SATA product meant for enterprise usages where the workload is primarily reading. This comes in handy for things like real-time data analytics and content delivery systems, where data is infrequently written but needs to be readable at latencies faster than what HDD's can provide.
These are 2.5" 7mm SSDs that will be available from 1.92TB to 7.68TB (yes, 2TB is the *smallest* available capacity for these!). The idea is to enable an easy upgrade path for larger data systems that already employ SATA or SAS (SAS systems are typically cross-compatible with SATA). For backplanes that are designed for slimmer 7mm drives, this can make for some extreme densities.
These are currently being sampled to some big data companies and should see more general availability in a few months time. Press blast from Micron appears after the break.