Micron P400m SSD Review: High Endurance MLC Is Here To Stay

Test Setup, Benchmarks, And Methodology

Test Hardware
ProcessorIntel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E), 32 nm, 3.3 GHz, LGA 2011, 15 MB Shared L3, Turbo Boost Enabled
Motherboard
Intel DX79SI, X79 Express
Memory
G.Skill Ripjaws Z-Series (4 x 4 GB) DDR3-1600 @ DDR3-1600, 1.5 V
System Drive
Intel SSD 320 160 GB SATA 3Gb/s
Tested Drives
Micron P400m, Firmware: 0200
Graphics
AMD FirePro V4800 1 GB
Power Supply
OCZ ModXStream Pro 700 W
System Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 x64 Ultimate
DirectXDirectX 11
DriverGraphics: ATI 8.883
Benchmark Suite
Iometer v1.1.0
4 Workers, 4 KB Random: LBA=Full, Span Varying Queue Depths
ATTO
v2.4.7, 2 GB, QD=4
Custom
C++, 8 MB Sequential, QD=4
Enterprise Testing: Iometer Workloads
Read
Write
512 Bytes
1 KB
2 KB
4 KB
8 KB
16 KB
32 KB
64 KB
128 KB
512 KB
Database
67%
100%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
100%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
File Server
80%
100%
10%
5%
5%
60%
2%
4%
4%
10%
n/a
n/a
Web Server
100%
100%
22%
15%
8%
23%
15%
2%
6%
7%
1%
1%


The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), a working group made up of SSD, flash, and controller vendors, has produced a testing procedure that attempts to control as many of the variables inherent to SSDs as possible. SNIA’s Solid State Storage Performance Test Specification (SSS PTS) is a great resource for enterprise SSD testing. The procedure does not define what tests should be run, but rather the way in which they are run. This workflow is broken down into four parts:

  1. Purge: Purging puts the drive at a known starting point. For SSDs, this normally means Secure Erase.
  2. Workload-Independent Preconditioning: A prescribed workload that is unrelated to the test workload.
  3. Workload-Based Preconditioning: The actual test workload (4 KB random, 128 KB sequential, and so on), which pushes the drive towards a steady state.
  4. Steady State: The point at which the drive’s performance is no longer changing for the variable being tracked.

These steps are critical when testing SSDs. It’s incredibly easy to not fully condition the drive and still observe out-of-box behavior, which may lead one to think that it’s steady-state. These steps are also important when going between random and sequential writes.

For all performance tests in this review, the SSS PTS was followed to ensure accurate and repeatable results.

All tests employ random data, when available. Micron's P400m does not perform any data compression prior to writing, so there is no difference in performance-based data patterns.

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16 comments
    Your comment
  • Nintendo Maniac 64
    に?

    Seriously though, I wonder why Tom's doesn't run one of their basic "real-world" tests used on consumer SSDs (such as Tom's 7zip test) on one of these professional SSDs just so that we can get an idea how they compare to the consumer-level stuff.

    In particular, Tom's always says that comparing one SSD to another is nearly moot point when you consider the magnitude of improvement an SSD has over a traditional HDD; it would be nice to know if these pro-level SSDs are of a similar magnitude of improvement over consumer SSDs or whether the difference is actually less.
    6
  • blazorthon
    Nintendo Maniac 64に?Seriously though, I wonder why Tom's doesn't run one of their basic "real-world" tests used on consumer SSDs (such as Tom's 7zip test) on one of these professional SSDs just so that we can get an idea how they compare to the consumer-level stuff.In particular, Tom's always says that comparing one SSD to another is nearly moot point when you consider the magnitude of improvement an SSD has over a traditional HDD; it would be nice to know if these pro-level SSDs are of a similar magnitude of improvement over consumer SSDs or whether the difference is actually less.


    The difference is much, much less in terms of performance difference. Tom's has told us this time and time again.
    -1
  • mayankleoboy1
    Nintendo Maniac 64に?Seriously though, I wonder why Tom's doesn't run one of their basic "real-world" tests used on consumer SSDs (such as Tom's 7zip test) on one of these professional SSDs just so that we can get an idea how they compare to the consumer-level stuff.In particular, Tom's always says that comparing one SSD to another is nearly moot point when you consider the magnitude of improvement an SSD has over a traditional HDD; it would be nice to know if these pro-level SSDs are of a similar magnitude of improvement over consumer SSDs or whether the difference is actually less.


    In desktop loads, very very less difference.
    In server loads, huge difference. Plus, these server SSD's wil maintain high speeds even after large amounts of data is continuously being written.
    4
  • mayankleoboy1
    theoretical question : how much life would 100% provisioning give ? So you ship a 512GB MLC drive, but the usable is only 256GB. The rest 256GB is for getting better wrtite endurance.
    How would this compare to a true SLC SSD ?
    2
  • blazorthon
    mayankleoboy1theoretical question : how much life would 100% provisioning give ? So you ship a 512GB MLC drive, but the usable is only 256GB. The rest 256GB is for getting better wrtite endurance. How would this compare to a true SLC SSD ?


    It'd probably still be inferior overall and not even be cheaper at that point. Over-provisioning is only good for mitigating MLC's disadvantages over SLC AFAIK, not replacing SLC.
    -1
  • blazorthon
    mayankleoboy1In desktop loads, very very less difference.In server loads, huge difference. Plus, these server SSD's wil maintain high speeds even after large amounts of data is continuously being written.


    Even in server workloads, there are many desktop drives where the performance difference is still not great. For example, Vector is right up there at the tops of the charts with Samsung 840 Pro in performance and many cheaper alternatives are often not far behind in performance. Endurance is another matter, but that wasn't the question. If you want a seriously significant performance difference like with HDDs versus cheap consumer SSDs, you have to consider SSD RAID and/or extreme PCIe storage.

    Also, many consumer drives have no trouble keeping performance over time with lots of data written. That's also not an enterprise-only feature.
    1
  • mayankleoboy1
    edit
    0
  • drewriley
    mayankleoboy1theoretical question : how much life would 100% provisioning give ? So you ship a 512GB MLC drive, but the usable is only 256GB. The rest 256GB is for getting better wrtite endurance. How would this compare to a true SLC SSD ?


    Some back of the napkin calculations - If you have a consumer 512GB MLC SSD with no over-provisioning, and the MLC was high grade consumer, you could expect 5K P/E cycles. In order to mimic the P400m, which is 35K P/E cycles, the usable space would be ~75GB. By dong that, you would be paying roughly $7/GB for usable storage(assuming you paid $512 for your consumer drive). For SLC, you are looking at 17GB of usable space and $30/GB.

    No matter how you look at it, consumer grade MLC will never get close to eMLC and SLC in terms of write endurance, unless the price goes down by orders of magnitude compared to eMLC and SLC.
    0
  • drewriley
    blazorthonEven in server workloads, there are many desktop drives where the performance difference is still not great. For example, Vector is right up there at the tops of the charts with Samsung 840 Pro in performance and many cheaper alternatives are often not far behind in performance. Endurance is another matter, but that wasn't the question. If you want a seriously significant performance difference like with HDDs versus cheap consumer SSDs, you have to consider SSD RAID and/or extreme PCIe storage.Also, many consumer drives have no trouble keeping performance over time with lots of data written. That's also not an enterprise-only feature.


    You are correct. Many drives, such as the 840 PRO, would perform great on the enterprise performance tests. There are also a lot of consumer drives that would have problems over time if they aren't allowed to TRIM every so often. We limit the scope of our testing because the main use cases for these drives are enterprise. Will some companies use them in workstations, absolutely. The same can be said for high-end RAID cards too. Nearly every consumer drive would perform very poorly when you take into account write endurance and other enterprise features.
    2
  • themdg
    This technology is moving so fast...hard to keep up. I feel like these articles could use that line from Tommy Boy and get the same point across (to me, at least).

    "These hard drives are really cool...you're not even gonna believe it..."
    0
  • sanilmahambre
    Oh boy! this awesome ssd is the best in the world.
    -2
  • dalethepcman
    The funny thing about "consumer" ssd performance for enterprise is that HDD bandwidth was never a problem that faster drives could solve, seek time and iops were. The reason bandwidth was never a problem is that even using traditional spinning drives you could easily max throughput of a 16gb/s fiber channel (that's only 100 drives.)

    Although these devices seem to be targeted for enterprise use, ill be sticking with 3par for the foreseeable future.
    0
  • f-14
    Nintendo Maniac 64に?Seriously though, I wonder why Tom's doesn't run one of their basic "real-world" tests used on consumer SSDs (such as Tom's 7zip test) on one of these professional SSDs just so that we can get an idea how they compare to the consumer-level stuff.In particular, Tom's always says that comparing one SSD to another is nearly moot point when you consider the magnitude of improvement an SSD has over a traditional HDD; it would be nice to know if these pro-level SSDs are of a similar magnitude of improvement over consumer SSDs or whether the difference is actually less.


    they will get back to you on that in 5 years as this article is about durability of this drive mostly with new firm ware and higher binned modules.

    it's the difference between recreational paintball quality and tournament winter paintball grade. not about speed, just reliability in the long term. the article even states the 300MB up/down per second transfer speeds in the specs if you care to read.
    0
  • f-14
    forgot to mention, in paintballs they're all great coming right out of the factory, but with rec ball the shells aren't as thick and degrade after 3 months and tend to break in your barrel or breach both rec and winter tournament grade will develop flat spots it's just a matter of how bad and after how long. the rec is made with a thin shell and the tournament is made with thicker shell, winter grade is double shelled. to get a thicker double shell is optimal but that decreases the chances of them breaking open and in
    0
  • mark0718
    Re mayankleoboy1 and others:
    Some consumers MLCs ship seem to run a SLC if only half of the space is allocated and
    seem to automatically switch to MLC as more space is used and not freed by TRIM.
    Thus, the consumer can buy a large drive but only partition a few MB less than the stated
    capacity and get SLC performance until/unless he needs more capacity.

    Note: while the read and write performance seems to be as good as real SLC, it isn't
    known to the public what the endurance is.

    The reason why a consumer might want to configure the way is the "enterprise" SLC stuff
    (and even some "enterprise" MLC stuff) costs 10 times as much as consumer stuff,
    so using only half available space is still only 1/5 the cost of "enterprise".

    It also isn't publically know if the endurance of the cells is the same if operated as
    SLC. (My quess is that the endurance would be higher.)
    0
  • blazorthon
    mark0718Re mayankleoboy1 and others: Some consumers MLCs ship seem to run a SLC if only half of the space is allocated andseem to automatically switch to MLC as more space is used and not freed by TRIM.Thus, the consumer can buy a large drive but only partition a few MB less than the statedcapacity and get SLC performance until/unless he needs more capacity.Note: while the read and write performance seems to be as good as real SLC, it isn'tknown to the public what the endurance is.The reason why a consumer might want to configure the way is the "enterprise" SLC stuff(and even some "enterprise" MLC stuff) costs 10 times as much as consumer stuff, so using only half available space is still only 1/5 the cost of "enterprise". It also isn't publically know if the endurance of the cells is the same if operated asSLC. (My quess is that the endurance would be higher.)


    Te consumer MLC drives, even when used in that way, are still far from equaling enterprise SLC, let alone beating it. Also, consumer SSDs that do anything like that such as Vertex 4 and Agility 4 don't adjust based on the capacity of the drives IIRC. As I recall, they constantly rewrite the data as MLC regardless of the capacity used to avoid the issue of huge speed bumps as the drives fill past certain capacity points known to some older firmware versions.
    0