Micron RealSSD P320h Review: A PCIe Drive Capable Of 3.2 GB/s

Announced earlier this year, Micron's RealSSD P320h PCI Express-based SSD promises to be an enterprise workhorse. A custom controller, single-level cell NAND, amazingly low latency, stellar random I/O, and incredible endurance combine to blow us away.

A number of storage vendors have jumped into the PCI Express-based SSD market during the past 18 months. With a few exceptions (notably, Fusion-io), the formula is fairly simple. Take a few SATA-based controllers, mix in a RAID controller, some RAM, set the blender to emulsify, and in a few minutes you have a storage device unencumbered by the 6 Gb/s SATA interface.

Alright, so it's not quite that simple. But those are the basic building blocks we're seeing from most vendors. Micron eschews that approach by baking up something completely different.

Meet the company's P320h half-height, half-length PCI Express-based SSD. The P320h is available in 350 and 700 GB capacities, selling for $3,495 and $6,995, respectively. That's expensive, no doubt. But for $10/GB you get very impressive performance specifications.

You should be aware that Micron sells the RealSSD P320h in one other format (aside from the half-height, half-length design we're reviewing today). Its 2.5" PCI Express RealSSD P320h is available in 175 and 350 GB capacities, but is limited to 415,000 4 KB random read IOPS and 1.75 GB/s in sequential reads. Though those numbers are still impressive, the form factor requires a server equipped with the right interface to support it.

Micron P320H
User Capacity
350 GB700 GB
Interface
PCI Express 2.0 x8, Half-Height, Half-Length
Sequential Read
3.2 GB/s
Sequential Write
1.9 GB/s
4 KB Random Read
785,000 IOPS
4 KB Random Write
205,000 IOPS
Power Consumption (Active)
25 W
Power Consumption (Idle)
10 W
Write Endurance
25 PB50 PB


With specified read performance up to 3.2 GB/s and as many as 785,000 4 KB random write IOPS, Micron is basically saturating a second-gen PCI Express x8 link with the HHHL version of its P320h. The use of single-level cell NAND allows for 50 PB of write endurance on the 700 GB variant. At a high level, those are all impressive numbers. But lets take a deeper look to see how Micron achieves such ambitious specs.

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    Top Comments
  • my wallet just had a heart attack, this thing would be freaking amazing to have
    14
  • 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...
    12
  • drwho1$10 dollars per GB.... LOL


    It using SLC and geared towards enterprise market...

    IMO it understandable price...
    10
  • Other Comments
  • my wallet just had a heart attack, this thing would be freaking amazing to have
    14
  • i dont see this as the future of consumer SSD's, just like a 16 core CPU is not the future of consumer CPU's.
    -18
  • 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...
    12
  • 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
  • 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.
    -9
  • 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?
    5
  • 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 ?
    7
  • 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


    ????????!!!!!!!!!!!
    2
  • 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.
    9
  • 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.
    6
  • 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
    4
  • Its still not fast enough ... I'm not impressed.

    Can you put two of them in RAID0 ??

    Signed,

    Bonkers :)
    -3
  • $10 dollars per GB.... LOL
    -10
  • drwho1$10 dollars per GB.... LOL


    It using SLC and geared towards enterprise market...

    IMO it understandable price...
    10
  • 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
  • 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.
    -6
  • 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).
    3
  • Thank you for the nice metrics, like $/PB-Written. It's the type of useful information lacking from many reviews.
    2
  • youssef 2010????????!!!!!!!!!!!
    Fixed, thanks for the heads up!
    0
  • 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.
    2