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Enterprise Video Streaming Performance

Micron RealSSD P320h Review: A PCIe Drive Capable Of 3.2 GB/s
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Enterprise video streaming is becoming a much more demanding workload within the enterprise space. Companies want more HD streams with higher bit-rates and no stuttering. A storage solution well-suited for enterprise-class video delivery has completely different capabilities than something designed for databases. At the end of the day, you're basically looking for exceptional large-block sequential write performance. You also need a high level of consistency that traditionally isn't seen from consumer SSDs. For a more in-depth analysis, take a look at our Intel SSD 910 review.

As a refresher, once the drive is in a steady state, we write its entire capacity 100 times. We use 8 MB transfer sizes and a queue depth of four, recording timestamps for each individual write. The graph below reflects 100-point averaging so that you can better visualize the results.

Frankly, we were shocked after our first look at the data. So much so, in fact, that instead of our usual 100 full writes, we went all the way up to 250. That's over 160 TB of data written to the P320h, including over 20 million individual 8 MB writes. The graph below shows the best- and worst-case runs out of those 250 iterations.

And that's it. Two minor hiccups, each of which is easy to overcome with a modest buffer. Because we are testing the P320h as a formatted drive, just as you would use it in the real-world, it's impossible to even say what caused those dips. They could have very well been from the driver or operating system doing some periodic check on the hardware. The table below shows how much memory would be required to maintain a given threshold.

Threshold (MB/s)
Best-Case Buffer Size In MB
Worst-Case Buffer Size In MB
1850
2653
1900
3466
1950
4079
2000
5292
2025
63106815


These are not normal results, particularly for an SSD. Typically, solid-state storage has issues where, in a very small percentage of writes, the operation takes an order of magnitude longer to complete. This is normally attributed to internal SSD tasks like garbage collection. Because those background operations are inherent and unavoidable, this sort of testing is necessary to measure how the outliers negatively affect streaming performance.

The P320h is such a consistent performer, though, that it needs almost no buffer up to and beyond its rated performance. Normally, when you go beyond the average, the required buffer grows exponentially. But the P320h goes from almost no buffer at 2,000 MB/s, to an unrealistically-high number just 25 MB/s higher.

Based on our maximum latency performance test, these results probably shouldn't come as a shock. But the fact that the consistency held up over such a long period of time certainly surprised us.

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Top Comments
  • 14 Hide
    wolley74 , January 3, 2013 3:22 AM
    my wallet just had a heart attack, this thing would be freaking amazing to have
  • 12 Hide
    bawchicawawa , January 3, 2013 3:53 AM
    mayankleoboy1i dont see this as the future of consumer SSD's, just like a 16 core CPU is not the future of consumer CPU's.



    Such an apples to oranges comparison...
  • 10 Hide
    rdc85 , January 3, 2013 12:05 PM
    drwho1$10 dollars per GB.... LOL


    It using SLC and geared towards enterprise market...

    IMO it understandable price...
Other Comments
  • 14 Hide
    wolley74 , January 3, 2013 3:22 AM
    my wallet just had a heart attack, this thing would be freaking amazing to have
  • 12 Hide
    bawchicawawa , January 3, 2013 3:53 AM
    mayankleoboy1i dont see this as the future of consumer SSD's, just like a 16 core CPU is not the future of consumer CPU's.



    Such an apples to oranges comparison...
  • 9 Hide
    memadmax , January 3, 2013 4:11 AM
    Eliminating the SAS controller is the logical way to have these pci-e based ssd drives...
    Kinda surprised something like this didn't come out first as it makes more sense....
  • -9 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , January 3, 2013 4:32 AM
    bawchicawawaSuch an apples to oranges comparison...


    really ? Increasingly, performance is basically dependent on extracting parallelism. Whether in storage or in CPU performance.
    Desktop/Mainstream users just dont do so much in parallel that they can fully use all the hardware.
  • 5 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , January 3, 2013 4:35 AM
    mayankleoboy1i dont see this as the future of consumer SSD's, just like a 16 core CPU is not the future of consumer CPU's.

    I see a purpose for 16 core processors. How are we going to otherwise be able to run Crysis 6?
  • 7 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , January 3, 2013 4:38 AM
    JOSHSKORNI see a purpose for 16 core processors. How are we going to otherwise be able to run Crysis 6?


    Use a 5000 core GPU ?
  • 2 Hide
    youssef 2010 , January 3, 2013 6:29 AM
    ArticleAlthough read performance is out of this world, the RealSSD P320h's write performance isn't nearly as spectacular. That's not to say the drive doesn't do well; it's just not as impressive after looking at those massive read numbers. read performance was out of this world, the write performance wasn't nearly as spectacular. Now, that's not to say that the P320h doesn't perform well, it's just not as impressive as the read results


    ????????!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 9 Hide
    abbadon_34 , January 3, 2013 7:26 AM
    After all these years it's nice to see the OCZ Revo at least mentioned. Considering a bootable PCI-E x4 SSD can be had for under $200 for over 5 years now, and is on it's 4th+ generation, one can only wonder why it's been ignored for so long.
  • 6 Hide
    Marcus52 , January 3, 2013 7:44 AM
    Micron deserves a pat on the back for this one!

    Thanks for the review, love to see this kind of advancement and a peak into the future new hardware brings with it, even if it isn't directly applicable to me at this point in time.
  • 4 Hide
    goodguy713 , January 3, 2013 9:19 AM
    because the revo drive is a picky bastard that only plays nice with certain hardware.. i have a revo drive 3 and i love it but at the same time its a love hate relationship
  • -3 Hide
    Reynod , January 3, 2013 10:45 AM
    Its still not fast enough ... I'm not impressed.

    Can you put two of them in RAID0 ??

    Signed,

    Bonkers :) 
  • 10 Hide
    rdc85 , January 3, 2013 12:05 PM
    drwho1$10 dollars per GB.... LOL


    It using SLC and geared towards enterprise market...

    IMO it understandable price...
  • 6 Hide
    Fulgurant , January 3, 2013 1:27 PM
    mayankleoboy1i dont see this as the future of consumer SSD's, just like a 16 core CPU is not the future of consumer CPU's.


    Eh, depending on how far in the future we're talking about, neither of those statements is iron-clad. In the case of a 16-core processor, it's pretty much guaranteed that we will eventually see one in the consumer space, at mainstream prices. Whether the extra cores on that CPU will offer any compelling benefit to the mainstream consumer is an open question, but at least those cores do offer meaningful performance benefits to hardcore multi-taskers.

    Similarly, current consumer-grade SSDs offer very nearly instantaneous responsiveness already -- unless the user attempts to perform multiple disk-intensive tasks simultaneously. But who knows what the future holds? You could make a case that current enterprise-grade SSDs (or something similar to them) are far more likely to make a meaningful mark on the consumer market years from now than 16-core processors, because the benefits of CPU parallelism are limited in principle. By contrast, the benefit of storage speed is only limited by the speed of the components that rely on it; storage speed applies both to singular and parallel tasks.

    That said, I agree with your sentiment if not with the particulars of your argument: my gut reaction to the article was that although 3.2 GB/sec is a very impressive number, I already feel like I'm flying at the ~0.5 GB/sec (at best) that I get out of my Intel 330. From the consumer perspective, performance comparisons between different SSDs almost always seem to me materially irrelevant, so it's hard to get too excited about the performance of an enterprise-grade SSD, even in the abstract.

    Still, this is a worthy review of an interesting product. Appreciate the insight.
  • -6 Hide
    oxxfatelostxxo , January 3, 2013 2:53 PM
    This is a pointless waste of money, for less You can get a high end Raid card and enough ssds to have a read and write over 3gb/s as well as more storage, oh and the best part, Redundancy if wanted and the fact that a failure doesnt mean a multi thousand dollar loss.
  • 3 Hide
    freggo , January 3, 2013 4:14 PM
    rdc85It using SLC and geared towards enterprise market... IMO it understandable price...


    1989... 1MB of memory chips (card extra) was $100 wholesale !
    We sold them by the boat load for Amiga computers.

    And yes, that is 1 MegaByte...
    an 8MB card retailed for $1,800 (and that's in 1989 Dollars).

  • 2 Hide
    Andy Chow , January 3, 2013 4:35 PM
    Thank you for the nice metrics, like $/PB-Written. It's the type of useful information lacking from many reviews.
  • 0 Hide
    drewriley , January 3, 2013 5:11 PM
    youssef 2010????????!!!!!!!!!!!
    Fixed, thanks for the heads up!
  • 2 Hide
    drewriley , January 3, 2013 5:13 PM
    Andy ChowThank you for the nice metrics, like $/PB-Written. It's the type of useful information lacking from many reviews.

    I am glad you find it useful, it is something that I have always cared about and tested because I have been burned in the past.
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