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Micron P420m: A PCIe-Based SSD Built For Read-Heavy Workloads

Micron P420m SSD Review: 1.4 TB Of PCI Express-Attached Storage
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With the introduction of Micron's P420m, the company is gunning for enterprise customers with heavy read workloads. It's hoping that an MLC-equipped drive designed for such a purpose will attract attention with an aggressive price point.

Micron built the P420m with its P320h as a model, using many of the same components that made the P320h such a success. As before, Micron delivers a vertically-integrated product that it has complete control over, from the processor to the DRAM cache to the NAND flash.

After spending a few weeks with the P420m, we come away with the mixed feelings you'd expect from a device that was built for one purpose at the expense of others, though. Read performance is out of this world, for example. Once you start seeing consistent read IOPS in the 750,000 range and sequential throughput in excess of 3 GB/s, its hard to go back to 2.5" SATA drives. The P420m breezes through our enterprise workloads, only falling shy of Micron's P320h and the massive OCZ Z-Drive.

Our write tests aren't as definitively good or bad. We saw consistency in the 4 KB random transfer benchmarks at all queue depths. Write endurance is also a strong point for this MLC-based drive. But neither strength makes up for its sequential write performance. To be fair, Micron's specification is very low for this device's class, and there's no getting around that. In addition, we had issues with response times in our large block sequential transfers, leaving us with some valid concerns.

The P420m's ability to impress in read and mixed workloads is certainly notable, even in contrast to the compromises it makes trying to drive enterprise storage prices down. Professionals shopping for storage for data center caching, media streaming, and online transactional processing have a drive here that should exceed their expectations.

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