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Micron Finally Rolls 3D XPoint SSD: X100 Billed as 'World's Fastest' with 2.5 Million IOPS and 9 GBps

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Micron announced its X100 SSD today, which its bills as the world's fastest SSD with 9GB/s of sequential performance in both read, write, and mixed workloads, and up to 2.5 million random IOPS. 

Micron touts the new PCIE 3.0 x16 device as delivering an impressive 8 microseconds of latency, which is faster than Intel's claimed 10 microseconds of latency from its Optane SSDs. The SSD is also notably faster at sequential and random performance than any of Intel's competing Optane devices.

Intel and Micron co-developed the revolutionary 3D XPoint storage media, which blends "DRAM-like" performance with a much lower price point and persistence (data remains on the storage device after power is removed). After the initial announcement in 2015, Intel went on to develop a wide range of 3D XPoint-powered devices, branded Optane, that encompass both storage and memory devices

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(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Micron initially announced QuantX, a series of high-performance SSDs that promised to upend the enterprise storage market, in 2016, but those drives never made it to market. In the interim, Micron and Intel have parted ways on joint 3D XPoint development, leaving Micron with no vehicle to sell it own 3D XPoint-infused devices on the open market. 

That changes today with the debut of Micron's X100 SSD. Here are the product highlights:

  • High-performance local storage - offers up to 2.5 million input/output operations per second (IOPs), more than three times faster than today’s competitive SSD offerings
  • Industry’s highest bandwidth - has more than 9GB/s bandwidth in read, write and mixed modes and is up to three times faster than today’s competitive NAND offerings

  • Ultralow latency - provides consistent read-write latency that is 11 times better than NAND SSDs
  • Application acceleration - enables two to four times the improvements in end-user experience for various applications with prevalent data center workloads
  • High-performance in small size storage - eliminates the need for overprovisioning storage for performance
  • Ease of adoption - because the Micron X100 SSD uses the standard NVMe interface, requires no changes to software to receive the full benefits of the product

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The back of the card reveals 16 emplacements for 3D XPoint packages, but it isn't clear if the SSD uses the first generation of the memory, or the soon-to-arrive second generation. 

We also see the X100 has an auxiliary 8-pin power connector, which means this drive will consume quite a bit of power. The cooling solution is passive and designed to take advantage of the linear airflow in servers. Micron isn't sharing specifics of its controller, though we are told it is a proprietary design. 

Unfortunately, Micron's X100 series is aimed at the data center for now, meaning we won't see an equivalent for the desktop market in the near term. However, with Micron now finally making headway on its own 3D XPoint-infused SSDs, we hope that will change in the future. Micron says it is sampling the drives to early customers now, but hasn't shared information about the various capacity points or pricing. 

  • mdd1963
    Impressive darn specs!

    Get this to consumer drives (and prices) ASAP! (Folks bottlenecked by storage speeds might pay $400 or even $500-$600 for a 1 TB drive that fast, but, most consumers are not going to pay the ridiculous $2k-$3k that some of the 'DataCenter'-intended cards go for...

    Trying already to imagine installing Windows in....2 minutes! :)
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    mdd1963 said:
    Impressive darn specs!

    Get this to consumer drives (and prices) ASAP!
    Similar prices to what SATA SSD's were originally.
    Then NVMe.

    This too will come down eventually.
    Reply
  • mdd1963
    it has an'8 pin power' input? as in a PCI-e 8 pin like that typically connected to a GPU?

    Hard to imagine the 75 watts available from a PCI-e slot not being sufficient, but,..I guess we hope to know in 4 years when this hits desktop at a decent price point. :)
    Reply
  • DavidC1
    mdd1963 said:
    Get this to consumer drives (and prices) ASAP! (Folks bottlenecked by storage speeds might pay $400 or even $500-$600 for a 1 TB drive that fast, but, most consumers are not going to pay the ridiculous $2k-$3k that some of the 'DataCenter'-intended cards go for...

    It won't.

    The volume is too low to be that low priced. Some reported Intel barely making profits on the enthusiast Optane 905P SSDs.

    mdd1963 said:
    it has an'8 pin power' input? as in a PCI-e 8 pin like that typically connected to a GPU?

    This makes sense. Current 3D Xpoint requires lots of power to reach high bandwidth. It's probably the reason Intel's Optane SSDs are relatively low for sequential specs, so it doesn't use so much power.
    Reply
  • seanwebster
    mdd1963 said:
    it has an'8 pin power' input? as in a PCI-e 8 pin like that typically connected to a GPU?

    Hard to imagine the 75 watts available from a PCI-e slot not being sufficient, but,..I guess we hope to know in 4 years when this hits desktop at a decent price point. :)

    SSDs can only pull up to 25W from a PCIe slot. It needs that 8-pin to supplement anything draw more than that.
    Reply
  • Brian_R170
    mdd1963 said:
    Get this to consumer drives (and prices) ASAP! (Folks bottlenecked by storage speeds might pay $400 or even $500-$600 for a 1 TB drive that fast, but, most consumers are not going to pay the ridiculous $2k-$3k that some of the 'DataCenter'-intended cards go for...

    Don't hold your breath. Intel Optane SSDs are over $4/GB for datacenter (P4800X) and over $1/GB for consumer (905P). I would expect the higher-performing Micron drive to be even more expensive. It could be well over 5 years before you see a consumer version anything close to $0.50/GB.
    Reply
  • derekullo
    Very impressive.

    The only thing I am wondering is why they stopped at 9 gigabytes per second?

    The maximum bandwidth of PCI-E 3.0 x16 is 15.75 Gigabytes per second.

    The 1.58% overhead from 128b/130b is negligible, 15.49 Gigabytes per second.

    The PCIE 3.0 x4 Samsung 970 Pro has a 3500MB/s read which is 90% of peak bandwidth of PCI-E 3.0 x4. (3500/3877 Adjusted for overhead)

    The Micro X100 has a 9000MB/s read and write which is 58% of peak bandwidth of PCIE 3.0 x16. (9000/15490 Adjusted for overhead)

    I'm assuming if they could have they would have since their target audience has deep pockets and for the bragging rights.

    The only reason I can think of would be heat since it does have an 8 pin in addition to the PCI-E slot.


    PCI-E 4.0 x4 is looking good if this ever comes in that flavor!!! 7.88 GB/s max bandwidth for that.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    USAFRet said:
    Similar prices to what SATA SSD's were originally.
    Then NVMe.

    This too will come down eventually.
    Well, it was a given that NVMe would come down, because the only real difference between that and SATA is the controller. Plus, M.2 drives avoid the added cost of a case. Yet, the fastest NAND-based NVMe drives will continue to command a premium, since they'll use lower-density NAND to get better performance.

    However, you're assuming that 3D XPoint will follow the same price curve as NAND, and I don't know if that's true. If we look at how NAND got cheap, it's because:
    Manufacturing node shrinks
    Packing multiple bits (now up to 16, with some talking about 32) per cell
    3D stackingAs for #1, presumably 3D XPoint is made on a somewhat comparable node to recent NAND. Maybe previous-gen, but suffice to say that it's not starting from way behind, so it doesn't have much room to catch up, here.

    Regarding #2, I don't know if 3D XPoint can manage the same trick, but it doesn't sound like it.

    So, that leaves #3. We'll have to see how well it can live up to its name and the supposed promise of being 3D, but I think the first gen chips were planar.

    In conclusion, if they can't pack multiple bits per cell, then it's going to need density improvements from stacking and areal density, in order to compete with NAND. I don't know how much potential there is for either, but it's probably not a stretch to say it's not likely ever to compete with NAND on price. What we'll probably see is a world where HDDs continue offer the best GB/$, 3D XPoint offers the best performance, and NAND sits somewhere in between.
    Reply
  • escksu
    Looks good on paper but hardly matters for most users.....The problem is never with sequential read/write. Its nature of I/O.... Because most of our daily I/O consist of numerous small files at very low queue depths (hardly more than 5).

    Another is windows itself. How I/O is performed. Windows reads file by file (serial form).... So transfer rate becomes very low when you have numerous small files. This needs to change before we can see big improvement.

    We have already seen performance with 905P....... In real life usage, performance boost over normal NVMe SSD is very small.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    derekullo said:
    The only thing I am wondering is why they stopped at 9 gigabytes per second?
    Probably because the chips they used can only run up to a certain speed, and the controller can support only so many chips? Just a guess.

    Maybe the controller is actually the bottleneck. Or power. Who knows?
    Reply